2021 Jr. NBA Program of the Year powered by Under Armour!

The Jr. NBA Program of the Year powered by Under Armour celebrates youth basketball organizations for their dedication to developing boys and girls on and off the court, supporting the physical and mental well-being of young athletes, and finding ways to keep young boys and girls active and connected to the game through safe and healthy programming.

Up to six (6) youth basketball organizations that meet the following criteria will be rewarded as finalists for the chance to be named Jr. NBA Program of the Year:


Angels Athletics

Location: Flossmoor, IL

Years in Existence: 6 years

Number of Kids Served: 100+ girls annually, ages 5-18

Angels Athletics is a non-profit youth organization for girls that is committed to developing youth of good character, encouraging sportsmanship and academic excellence, and building strong leaders on and off the court. They want young girls of all athletic abilities and interest to be part of a positive and caring community, to be encouraged to try, to be challenged and to succeed!

Through in-house leagues, skills and drills sessions, and competitive travel play, they provide an avenue to teach life-skills and build confidence for goal achievement and use a “HALO Empowerment” approach: Health + Academics + Leadership = Opportunity. Additionally, they complement their basketball programming with several development programs co-hosted and co-planned by their players, including virtual Her Time To Play sessions, an annual Leadership Conference featuring female community leaders, social justice conversations, coding and robotics STEM activities, a Health and Wellness Fair focused on nutrition, injury avoidance, and mental health, Career Forums and weekly team check-ins.

Angels Athletics also partners with local schools and park districts to teach basketball to younger and differently abled girls who are brand new to the sport but interested in learning.

To learn more about Angels Athletics, visit http://angelsathleticsinc.com/.

See below to learn more about the other 2021 Jr. NBA Program of the Year powered by Under Armour finalists who were selected due to their incredible work teaching the game of basketball at the youth level and their ongoing efforts to support their communities throughout the past year.

BlazeSports America

Location: Norcross, GA

Years in Existence: 25

Number of Kids Served: 35 boys and girls annually, ages 7-18

BlazeSports America’s mission is to change the lives of youth with physical disabilities through adaptive sport and recreation. Through their programming, they aim to build confidence and motivate young people to perform better in school, foster independent, active lifestyles, and build character and teach life lessons that extend beyond the field of play.

Their youth athletes have the opportunity to experience the benefits of basketball regardless of physical limitations and ability by competing on the BlazeSports Atlanta Jr. Hawks Wheelchair Basketball team (prep or varsity), which is a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).

BlazeSports’ Youth L.E.A.D. program (leadership, employment, advocacy and development) incorporates mentoring and other life skills into all basketball programming as part of the coaching curriculum. They also present opportunities to get kids ready for success in both college and their career by offering internships and teaching work readiness skills needed to ultimately find and maintain employment. As a non-profit, they host a lot of free community events throughout the year to expose both youth and veterans with disabilities to the word of adaptive sports. Additionally, they host the largest junior wheelchair basketball tournament in the Southeast called Big Peach Slam Jam.

They are proud that 100% of their graduating seniors are pursuing secondary education, and 50% will be playing colligate wheelchair basketball on scholarships.

To learn more about BlazeSports America, visit https://blazesports.org/.

Grow Our Game

Location: Briarwood, NY

Years in Existence: 2

Number of Kids Served: 146 girls annually, ages 4-10

Grow Our Game empowers young girls ages 4-10 to become fierce, amazing leaders through confidence, passion and community impact, all while learning the game of basketball. They are the only program of its kind in New York City that offers completely free opportunities for girls to learn the game of basketball by being taught by women.

They incorporate innovative and comprehensive activities to develop basketball skills, physical fitness and social-emotional skills to achieve a meaningful impact in the personal development of these future leaders. All of their sessions end with the following Sisterhood Affirmations: I Am Strong, I Am Smart, I Am Beautiful, And I Can Do Anything! Before the pandemic, they partnered with various community-based organizations to provide free clinics for their community members and led a free distribution of women’s basketballs for any families/girls that were interested in playing. During the pandemic, Grow Our Game provided virtual clinics, workout sessions, weekly dance parties as well as hosted conversations about systemic racism and equality.

Grow Our Game remains committed to closing the sports participation gap for girls, but most importantly changing the narrative of girls sports participation. They are creating a culture of girls that not only love basketball but will also fully embrace their abilities to become athletes in all sports.

To learn more about Grow Our Game, visit www.growourgame.org.

MCAS Miramar Youth Sports Program

Location: San Diego, CA

Years in Existence: 2 years

Number of Kids Served: 120 boys and girls annually, ages 5-17

MCAS Miramar Youth Sports Program’s mission is to provide military youth the opportunity to participate in an organized sports program that fosters a stress-free learning environment and emphasizes the Jr. NBA’s core values of fun, teamwork, and sportsmanship. They recognize their responsibility to their athletes goes far beyond skill development, so they incorporate mental health and wellness lessons as well as address confidence, communication, self-control, commitment, and dealing with undesired emotions as part of their virtual basketball programs. All of their coaches are trained through the National Alliance for Youth Sports on a variety of themes including basketball, mental health and wellness, and bully prevention.

Additionally, MCAS Miramar leads several annual community service projects, including a teen volunteer service program where teens ages 13-17 volunteer their time to help clean up the community, military housing, and local sports facilities. They also host events for their families on base including a movie in the park night and a “Bowling with the Stars” annual event for families and youth to meet local professional athletes, actors, and city officials and hear about different career paths.

At MCAS Miramar Youth Sports, they recognize that everyone comes from different walks of life and they are committed to providing a safe haven for future leaders to grow.

To learn more about MCAS Miramar Youth Sports program, visit www.mccsmiramar.org.

San Francisco Rebels

Location: San Francisco, CA

Years in Existence: 31 years

Number of Kids Served: 500 boys and girls annually, ages 6-17

The mission of the San Francisco Rebels is to empower and strengthen inner city youth and their families by providing comprehensive youth development through education, athletics, advocacy, after school and recreational activities, job placement, leadership training and other supportive services. Started in 1990 with only one team, their program of now more than thirty-six teams aims to provide a safe and consistent place for youth to create memorable, life-long experiences and build a sense of pride in themselves and their community by encouraging self-esteem and diversity awareness.

Their goal is to guide athletes to become world class players in life and therefore they have a non-negotiable expectation of teamwork, fair play, respect, determination and community with their athletes. Thanks to the size of their organization, they also have the ability to host multiple community efforts throughout the season, including an annual food and clothing drive to local shelters, food banks and families in need, trips to the local farmers market to assist seniors, and assisting families with Wi-Fi access during critical times. Throughout the pandemic, the San Francisco Rebels hosted virtual basketball clinics and practices in partnership with the Golden State Warriors and continued to provide robust, consistent programming for their players to help them stay connected. They also held monthly parent informational meetings as well as teamed up with other local basketball organizations to take part in a social justice campaign named, Speak Up and Dribble, where players and other participants marched through the streets of San Francisco while dribbling to City Hall to hold a rally.

We Thrive Foundation

Location: Houston, TX

Years in Existence: 4 years

Number of Kids Served: 80 boys & girls annually, ages 6-18

We Thrive Foundation strives to create a safe space for youth to be able to achieve their goals, release built up emotions, and to learn and be mentored by quality coaches. Their mission is to provide resources, opportunities, and relief to underserved families, at-risk children, and homeless veterans and to utilize social-emotional learning techniques to support the mental well-being of young people.

A core aspect of their program is called the “E+M+Body Complete Player,” which focuses on the connection between the emotional, the mental, and the physical when it comes to success and performance on the court. Throughout the pandemic, they facilitated various learning opportunities to keep the youth connected such as online practices, virtual workshops to facilitate meaningful conversation, as well as virtual film study sessions during NBA games. All of their coaches participate in USA Basketball training and complete trauma-informing and injury prevention courses. We Thrive Foundation also emphasizes the importance of social justice by facilitating discussions on racial issues with community police officers. Their players participate in a variety of community service initiatives, including feeding the homeless, delivering supplies to disaster relief victims, donating toys to women’s and children’s shelters and providing mental health information and resources to veterans who are seeking it.

Due to the area that they serve, they work to find creative ways for kids to participate so they don’t turn anyone away.

To learn more about We Thrive Foundation, visit https://wethrivefoundation.org/.