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Earl Monroe Opens Charter High School for Hoops

The Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School was unvieled in the Bronx with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Numerous NBA luminaries descended on the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx on Wednesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School, the country’s first specialty high school focused on hoops.

The opening was the culmination of an eight-year effort spearheaded by Monroe, a New York Knicks legend and Basketball Hall of Famer, and award-winning filmmaker Dan Klores. The inaugural freshman class of 110 boys and girls of color who will integrate basketball into the New York State core curriculum, with additional specialized classes meant to help students pursue careers in the NBA and WNBA even if they never make it on the court as a player.

“For every NBA player, there’s 100 related jobs in the NBA and its teams,” league commissioner Adam Silver said at the event.

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The school received $4.7 million in funding from a group of founding donors including Nike, Citibank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charter School Growth Fund, Bill Simmons, and numerous trustees and advisors. Among those in attendance were Knicks front office executives Leon Rose, Scott Perry, and William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, plus Allan Houston, Marv Albert, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts.

“We are marrying passion with opportunity,” Monroe said.  “We are opening the doors for high school children, all from diverse households, so their dreams can become real.  There is no higher purpose in life.”

Roberts grew up in the South Bronx at the Melrose Houses projects near Yankee Stadium, and discussed her appreciation for this project to Boardroom.

“This school’s recognition of the power of basketball at the same time it appreciates academic achievement is exactly what I hoped would be available when I was growing up as a kid,” she said.

“This is about creating great citizens. It’s about lifelong learning,” Silver told the ninth graders in attendance as a parting message. “You can control your destiny when it comes to working in sports. Take advantage of this opportunity and you’ll be so successful and be a big part of this game.”