Nonprofit helps advocate for sports equity one “Lending Locker” at a time
CHICAGO — Grant Thornton LLP, one of America’s largest providers of audit and assurance, tax and advisory services, has named Alley-Oop Kids to its Purple Paladin program, which helps emerging nonprofit organizations move from “start-up to unstoppable.” As part of the program, Grant Thornton provides funding, business advice and volunteer support, while also helping nonprofits raise awareness of their work and mission.
Founded in 2022 by then 15-year-old, Rishan Patel, Alley-Oop Kids is dedicated to bringing sports to kids on a global scale by providing access to sporting equipment using “Lending Lockers.”
“The process is pretty simple: we work with under-resourced schools and youth organizations, providing them with a secure locker filled with sports equipment and gear that they can easily access,” Patel said. “But what’s unique about our process is we engage a student at each site as a ‘Lending Locker’ captain. These captains work with us year-round to keep lockers full of high-quality equipment that fits each location’s unique needs, ensuring the school’s supply of equipment continues well after our initial donation.”
After receiving overwhelming gratitude from recipients of their first “Lending Locker,” Patel and Alley-Oop Kids took off running — building more lockers and in turn, improving sports equity in communities all over the world. What started as an idea in Patel’s head has grown into an organization that has already installed 130 “Lending Lockers,” with more than another 100 planned for 2024. These efforts have brought sports gear to more than 100,000 kids globally. For his work with Alley-Oop Kids, Patel was honored with the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the ESPYs in 2023.
“Our firm knows the power that sports have to shape a more equitable and inclusive future, which is why we are looking forward to this opportunity to work with Alley-Oop Kids,” said Seth Siegel, CEO of Grant Thornton. “This innovative team is helping to bring all the benefits of sports to youth around the world, and we’re excited to support them.”
Grant Thornton’s support for Alley-Oop Kids reflects the firm’s larger focus on equity through sports. In December 2023, it held the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational, a mixed-team golf tournament that saw LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR players compete together in a unique co-sanctioned event ― playing for an equal prize and visibility. In June of 2023, Grant Thornton also worked with another sports-related Purple Paladin, the I GOT THIS Foundation, which promotes golf instruction and playing opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.
In addition, Grant Thornton is supporting the men’s and women’s golf programs at six Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with the goal of creating new opportunities for student athletes, both on and off the course. Further, the firm sponsors a diverse group of Brand Ambassadors that includes LPGA Tour golfers Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda and Mel Reid ― as well as PGA TOUR golfers Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Cameron Champ.
To learn more about Alley-Oop Kids, visit www.alleyoopkids.org/
Alley-Oop Kids joins 17 other 501(c)(3) nonprofits that Grant Thornton previously selected as Purple Paladins. They include:
- MBC Travelers – empowers survivors of metastatic breast cancer by creating memorable travel experiences and connections. To learn more, visit mbctravelers.com.
- I Got THIS Foundation — helps inspire young golfers and educates the public on what’s possible for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. To learn more, visit igotthis.foundation.
- Women in Training — dedicated to ending “period poverty”. To learn more, visit womenintraining.org.
- Digs with Dignity — helps elevate the lives of those transitioning from homelessness by furnishing their houses to create a dignified home. To learn more, visit digswithdignity.org.
- Fair Opportunity Project — offers high-quality college counseling resources at no cost to aspiring students. To learn more, visit fairopportunityproject.org.
- Free Mom Hugs — creates allies who support the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education and conversation. To learn more, visit freemomhugs.org.
- WeaveTales — helps refugees of all kinds share their stories via books, exhibits, films and other channels. To learn more, visit weavetales.org.
- Warrior Reunion Foundation — reconnects combat veterans via life-changing reunion experiences. All events are provided at no cost to those who attend. To learn more, visit warriorreunionfoundation.org.
- Go Team Therapy Dogs — produces well-trained therapy dogs and places them at disaster sites, hospitals, and other places where they can offer comfort and care. To learn more, visit goteamdogs.org.
- Find Your Anchor — focused on suicide prevention. To help people who are struggling to find hope, the organization creates and distributes boxes of curated items known as “anchors.” To learn more, visit findyouranchor.us.
- Foster Nation — helps former foster youth overcome the challenges associated with ‘aging out’ of the foster-care system. To learn more, visit fosternation.org.
- Hope in a Box — provides educators with literature, detailed curriculums and coaching to improve classroom environments for LGBTQIA+ students. To learn more, visit hopeinabox.org.
- Weird Enough Productions — develops free, interactive online content designed to combat media misrepresentations of minority communities. The organization is best known for its hallmark comic book series, “The UnCommons.” To learn more, visit weirdenough.com.
- Invisible Hands Deliver — taps more than 12,000 volunteers to deliver groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities to people vulnerable to COVID-19 and facing hunger insecurity — including the elderly, disabled and immunocompromised. To learn more, visit invisiblehandsdeliver.org.
- Pal Experiences — helps people with non-visible disabilities — such as autism — have more inclusive experiences at museums, entertainment venues, sporting events and more. To learn more, visit palexperiences.org.
- Sneakers for Soldiers — provides properly-fitted athletic shoes to deployed combat troops in all branches of the military. To learn more, visit sneakersforsoldiers.org.
- Coming Up Rosies — provides “smile kits” to hospitals so children — particularly those suffering from hair loss — can engage in therapeutic art activities to create custom head scarves, neck scarves and superhero capes based on their own unique designs. To learn more, visit cominguprosies.com.
Grant Thornton’s Purple Paladins program derives its name from the word paladin, a champion of a cause. Grant Thornton and its professionals have donated more than $1 million to Purple Paladin nonprofits, and more than 650 Grant Thornton professionals have volunteered their time and skills to support the firm’s Purple Paladins.
To learn more about Purple Paladins, or to nominate a nonprofit for potential support, visit Grant Thornton’s website: www.grantthornton.com/PurplePaladins.
About Grant Thornton LLP
Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is one of America’s largest providers of audit and assurance, tax and advisory services — and the U.S. member firm of the Grant Thornton International Ltd global network. We go beyond the expected to make business more personal and build trust into every result. With revenues of $2.4 billion for the fiscal year that ended July 31, 2023, and almost 50 offices nationwide, Grant Thornton is a community of more than 9,000 problem solvers who value relationships and are ready to help organizations of all sizes and industries create more confident futures. Because, for us, how we serve matters as much as what we do.
“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.
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