CAA Sports and OKC Thunder have created the Thunder Fellows Program, which is designed to unlock new career opportunities for Black youth in the Tulsa area. These opportunities will include curriculum such as data and analytics, with the goal of developing pipelines for professional roles in sports, entertainment and technology.
In the statement released by the OKC Thunder, the program will be composed of two groups of students: Fellows – (Black students from regional colleges and universities) and Young Leaders – (Black students from 8th-12th grade in Tulsa area schools). In addition, the Thunder Fellows Program will be located in the Historic Greenword District, which was one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses during the 20th Century and commonly known as America’s “Black Wall Street”.
Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett released the statement “Our organization is deeply committed to social justice and the actions that are necessary to create better opportunities for the Black community, now and in the future”. The goal of the program is to close the opportunity gap for Black students by creating career opportunities in professional sports and other lucrative industries.
Thunder Fellows Program is a nonprofit organization and is scheduled to launch in 2021. ImpactTulsa, which is a group of leaders from education, business, philanthropic, nonprofit, civic and faith communities in the Tulsa region will be responsible for identifying the students who will be a part of the program.
The Thunder and CAA Sports are currently working with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to identify a location to build the Thunder-powered Data & Analytics Center within the Historic Greenwood District and will replicate the model in every city.
In addition, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) will provide additional guidance for the program, and there will be one Thunder Fellows Program board seat reserved each year for a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder roster.
The program will provide mentorships, skill development, and the provision of practical experience. Students will be exposed to a variety of disciplines within Thunder basketball operations, where they will be able to work on actual projects for the organization.