Russell Westbrook partners with nonprofit to launch L.A. schools for underserved students

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook announced on Wednesday that his Why Not? Foundation is partnering with education nonprofit LA Promise Fund to launch a middle school and high school in his hometown of Los Angeles.

Collectively, the schools will be called the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy. Westbrook announced the news in a joint statement alongside footage from work at a weekly Los Angeles food pantry run by the LA Promise fund.

'Cultivate tomorrow's scholars, athletes and activists'

"Through this partnership, we will provide every student with a world-class education that will cultivate tomorrow's scholars, athletes and activists that are committed to social change," LA Promise president Veronica Melvin said.

Westbrook spoke about his motivation to work with inner-city youth on a video conference with students.

"I'm actually super excited to get to know all you guys personally," Westbrook said. "That's one thing that's very important to me. Because I was just like you guys. I grew up in the city.

"I understand the struggles. I understand sometimes not wanting to or feeling like school is important. But I'm here to tell you that it's very important. Especially now more than ever."

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 21: (L-R) Raynard Westbrook, Russell Westbrook and Shannon Westbrook attend Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation 8th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Jesse Owens Community Regional Park on November 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation )
The next project for Russell Westbrook's Why Not? Foundation is opening schools in Los Angeles. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images)

Westbrook is working on the project with his wife Nina Westbrook and business partner Donnell Beverly, according to a press release. Westbrook will sit on the school board. Details about the location of the schools and when they will open aren't clear.

The schools are the latest effort from Westbrook's Why Not? Foundation that has provided food, clothing, computer equipment, shoes and job training to communities in need across the country.

Westbrook isn't the first NBA star to open a school in his hometown. LeBron James founded the I Promise school in Akron, Ohio to serve at-risk students. The school opened in 2018 with James as its largest donor.

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