Charlotte Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan announced Monday that he along with other key donors have invested $500,000 into the city’s literacy programs. The retired NBA player made the revelation ahead of the Hornet’s yearly day of community service, Swarm to Serve.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the grant – which is double that of last year’s – will be used to build and stock the shelves of 18 libraries in community centers, education non-profits, preschools and child care centers in low-income areas. The money will also be donated to other local charities.
Bank of America and Lowe’s contributed to the gift along with the Hornets. Employees and staffers from both companies were part of nearly 400 volunteers building the libraries throughout the city.
“When I took over majority control of the team, one of the biggest impacts I wanted … was to reconnect back to the community,” Jordan told volunteers at Time Warner Cable Arena June 20. “I felt [that connection] was lost a little bit with the previous ownership, and I felt it was very important.”
The former Chicago Bulls player is referring to BET founder Robert Johnson, who laid off the team’s community relations department in 2008. The result was severely reduced philanthropic efforts with no clear strategy.
Carolyn Hazeldine of Child Care Resources Inc. said Jordan’s celebrity will shine a light on literacy issues.
“He’s a local celebrity who can give to a lot of causes, but when he chooses to give to early literacy, it puts a face on the issue,” she told the newspaper. “It tells people in the community that this is important.”
Hazeldine’s company is one of four organizations benefiting from the hefty donation. The Charlotte Business Journal reports they include Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation, Freedom School Partners and CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development.
Jordan has previously dedicated efforts to charitable causes in health, hunger relief, the military, education and literacy.