Jeffrey Tubbs has a dream for Point Breeze, and it comes in the shape of basketball court. Tubbs is the founder and president of Urban Roots, one of two nonprofits involved in revitalizing the neighborhood by creating — the name is a mouthful — Rucker Philly at Ralph Brooks Park. It's a sister spot to the famed basketball court at Rucker Park in Harlem, which has been dribbled on by everyone from Wilt Chamberlain to Kobe Bryant (and plenty of other b-ballers who didn't get their starts in Philly).
Joining Urban Roots is I.am.SP, another local nonprofit founded by youth basketball coach Jahmall Crandall. Together they aim to turn a forgotten basketball court into the core of a stronger community.
Of course, it isn’t going to be easy. According to Tubbs, the project has raised roughly $240,000 so far. “We’ve been partnering with the Rucker Foundation from New York, and that gives us some real street credibility,” explains Tubbs. The hope is that the renovated corner will strengthen the community and provide a place for kids to play, interact and become a part of their neighborhood.
“I think from a city planning point, we're basically trying to use the court as a hub to address different issues. Some local businesses are not doing great and we’re hoping to generate business there. And we are working with leaders in the community to expose young people to the idea of building a successful neighborhood,” says Tubbs.
Urban Roots and I.am.SP have plans that expand further than the court. “That’s the anchor of this project, but we’ve been approved to acquire several lots around the court,” Tubbs says. “We hope to have some accessories there, like an urban farm and a commercial kiosk for fresh produce. Maybe a pop-up business and some workshops.”
The entire project has an estimated price tag of $1 million. If all goes according to plan, expect to see Rucker Philly at Ralph Brooks Park buzzing with activity by spring of next year.
To help reach their monetary goal, the nonprofits set out to raise cash through Lucky Ant, a local crowdfunding organization. “We really liked Lucky Ant because they’re not Kickstarter. This gives both of us an opportunity to show what we’re about,” Tubbs says. While the overall financial goal might sound daunting, this first fundraising effort is for a mere $275,000, to bankroll the first phase of the project.