The Texas Legends have taken action to form ConNEXTions, a mentorship-style outreach to provide experience and resources to teenagers in underserved communities. The name, a combination of the words “CONNECT” and “NEXT”, embodies the purpose—to connect the next generation with a network that can help guide and encourage them down a path of success.
“When we, as a staff, began to talk about social justice, having the important conversations and looking for ways to take action we asked, ‘beyond making a statement, what can we do to help?’. This program is part of our ongoing initiative to not only support, but actively assist. We are always on the lookout for ways to positively impact the community around us – and this program represents an opportunity to make an impact both short-term and lasting,” said Legends President and General Manager Malcolm Farmer.
The program is specifically targeted to ages 13-18. The object of ConNEXTions is to connect the next generation in our underserved communities with as many opportunities as possible before they graduate high school. Leaders from all industries can volunteer to serve as a connection to youth interested in their field. The program is launching in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex but is not limited in geographic scope. Via a platform on the team’s website (www.TexLegends.com) both career experts and teenagers in need of a connection in a relevant field will be virtually connected.
“We’ve seen firsthand in our clinics, camps, and other youth programs that a lot of our kids in underserved neighborhoods and communities have a multitude of talents and skills – but may need the appropriate ‘connection’ to take the next step. Say a kid is really interested in graphic design but not sure how to make it a career? We want to provide the ‘connection’ to help them move forward. Same with every other career path out there. Through our staff, players, and partners – we can provide expert-level guidance in a multitude of areas, and this program will provide us a larger platform to do so.”
The program has minimal restrictions for youth looking for guidance, however it is designed to benefit the underserved communities. The team is encouraging organizations and individuals alike to share ConNEXTions with teens they know that could benefit from its opportunities
“We feel like there are groups, neighborhoods, and individual kids out there who don’t have the same resources as others. If kids want to know about becoming a surgeon, I have someone to introduce them to. We are starting this program to reach those who don’t already have that network. I think back to when I was in high school and wanted to be a college basketball coach. I was fortunate to receive a connection to a Division III head coach who could give me some guidance – we want to provide that to as many people, in as many different industries, as we can.”
ConNEXTions goes far beyond basketball with a goal to showcase as many fields and career paths as possible. As it develops, the plan is to not only provide knowledge and insight but guidance and resources on how to take the next steps toward a degree or plan that will give our youth opportunities to be successful.
“It’s been encouraging to see the response already from partners of ours that we’ve mentioned this to. We have leaders in different fields who have already said ‘sign me up, I’m all in’ and that’s the first step to bridging the gap between our youth and their dreams.”