Star-driven hoops academy will help kids develop basketball skills for the working world

By John Lombardo
The new basketball school in the Bronx will have girls and boys teams, but will focus on the business side.Courtesy of Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School

Billing itself as the first specialized public high school “designed around the global game of basketball,” the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School in the Bronx, N.Y., opens with a fresh vision for students interested in careers related to the sport.

 

The school, which this week welcomes 110 freshmen, is founded by filmmaker Dan Klores with New York Knicks legend Earl Monroe also taking a critical developmental role.

The vision, the two partners said, is not to create a new breeding ground for top players. Instead, it is to expose and educate students to a variety of careers related to the game of basketball along with providing a high level of core high school curriculum for both boys and girls.

MonroeCourtesy of Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School

“For both boys and girls, this is a way to be involved,” Monroe said of the basketball focus. “Most people will not be able to play, but it is a way to be involved without being a sports person. It is turning the passion into opportunity and for a better life.”

The school is housed in a temporary location in a former Catholic school until a new 60,000-square-foot, five-story building is completed by 2024 in the South Bronx. Approximate cost of the new school is $25 million, Klores said.

Yes, there will be a gym and boys and girls basketball teams, but the focus will be far wider than on wins and losses. 

“It is for children who love the game and are thinking about having career possibilities from the basketball ecosystem,” Klores said.

To date, the school has raised nearly $5 million and has a goal of reaching $10 million. The rest of the new school will be financed with grants, public funding and private financing.

With an initial annual operating budget of $4.5 million, funding and other support will come from Nike, Citi, the Gates Foundation, the SNF Foundation, the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, and the NBA Foundation.

KloresCourtesy of Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School

“It will be self-sufficient by the end of year two because as a charter school in New York state, we also receive money from the state,” Klores said.

In addition, the school’s board of advisers is a power players list of industry leaders including Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman; Hall of Fame broadcaster Marv Albert;  David Blitzer, co-founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; former U.S. senator and Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Bradley; and Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (see chart, next page).

Other notable donors include Paul Simon, and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons.

Funding of the school also includes sponsorships and naming rights of various programs and facilities within the school.

Klores said donors can offer funds for general development, or for a specific specialty program, adding that some donors want naming rights while others do not. Much like many other not-for-profit educational, cultural, health and even sports institutions, this is a common practice. The school is not absolutely rigid on the amount, he said. 

Operated as a charter school, entrance into the high school is by lottery with the 110 freshmen chosen in April from a pool of about 12 applicants for every one student selected. Each year a new grade will be added with a 2024 enrollment expected to top out at 440 students.

Education will be tuition free. In addition to the New York state-mandated core curriculum, classes will be eventually offered in a variety of basketball-related areas including business and marketing, coaching, analytics, law, venture capital, broadcast and print journalism, sports psychology, and kinesiology.

School supporters

A partial list of the board of advisers for Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School:
Val Ackerman: Commissioner, Big East Conference, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
Marv Albert: Hall of Fame broadcaster
Nate Archibald: Basketball Hall of Fame member, youth counselor
David Blitzer: Co-founder, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
Bill Bradley: Former U.S. senator (N.J.); Basketball Hall of Fame member
Russ Granik: Vice chairman, Galatioto Sports Partners; former NBA deputy commissioner; Basketball Hall of Fame member
Mike Greenberg: ESPN broadcaster
Reggie Love: Senior adviser, Apollo Global Management; former special assistant to President Obama; member of the 2001 Duke University NCAA championship team
Michele Roberts: Executive director, National Basketball Players Association
Barry Watkins: CEO, Clairvoyant Media Strategies; former chief communications officer, Madison Square Garden
Jeff Zucker: Chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports

Source: Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School

The initial staff includes five administrators and 17 teachers.

“We are going to integrate the specialized curriculum every year,” Klores said. “We will move slowly. It is basketball, not sports.”

Klores began considering the creation of a basketball specialty school after he founded the nonprofit New Renaissance Basketball Association in 2013 that focuses on offering educational programs to underprivileged kids.

Klores is a filmmaker who directed and produced the acclaimed “Black Magic” ESPN documentary on Black college basketball in 2008. Klores also founded the DKC marketing and PR firm.

He took his idea of a specialty basketball high school to late NBA Commissioner David Stern, who encouraged Klores and signed on as a founding trustee of the school. “I said eight years ago, why can’t there be a special school for basketball, but not for playing?” Klores said. “The country is flooded with those [academies].”

Klores and Monroe were already friends, with Monroe previously working as a producer on “Black Magic.”

“We talked about the premise six or seven years ago,” Monroe said. “Back in the 1980s, I had the Earl Monroe Academy that tried to give other aspects that were involved in the game. When Dan told me about this, it was a renewal about what I was thinking but on a grander scale. I got involved as a board member and that evolved into then naming the school after me.

“I will be visible and vocal and do whatever I even can to grow the school and the idea.”

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