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TULSA, Okla.,–The Oklahoma City Thunder has selected 26 Black high school students in Tulsa for its 2022-23 Thunder Fellows after-school program.
Dedicated to enhancing opportunity and addressing the racial wealth gap in Tulsa’s Greenwood community, The Thunder Fellows launched its first class in 2021.
The 30-week program, crafted for 9th and 10th graders, enhances opportunities for young people to pursue a career in data analytics in the fields of sports, entertainment and technology. These are skills in high demand across various industries that offer lucrative salaries.
Following the success of this melanin mentorship, a documentary released over the summer highlights the inaugural class of future change-makers a century after their ancestors were violently denied generational wealth. Now, The Thunder prepares for its second cohort of Black excellence personified.
“I realized that each of these kids are incredible individuals. They have their own backgrounds, their own fears, their own passions, interests,” Thunder Fellows Executive Director Cedric Ikpo told The Black Wall Street Times following a screening of the film at Tulsa’s Circle Cinema.
Thunder Fellows gearing up for new class of Black students
Selected class members for this year include: Mya-Nicole Anduze, Tanner Frank, Journee Green, Maya Woods and Mia Woods, seniors at Booker T. Washington; Sanaia Adkism and Gabriella Ross, juniors at Edison Prep; Tauveaz Briggs, Josiah Laird and Jason Sims, sophomores at Crossover Prep; Terrone Harris and Trinity Tottress, sophomores at KIPP University Prep; Jordan Coleman, senior at Victory Christian School.
Thunder Fellows also selected Jayden Brown and Sean Brown, sophomores and Jaylen Brown, junior at Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences; Mia Adams, sophomore and Kayveonna Jackson and Kaelin Johnson, seniors at Union; Quinton Moore, sophomore at McLain; Ashlae Rice, sophomore and Kei’trayon Williams, junior at Dove Science Academy; Amarie Adkins, sophomore at Central; Hannah Connolly, sophomore and Trinity Woods, junior at Augustine Christian Academy; and Meleigha Simpson, sophomore at East Central.
“There is no ceiling to their potential,” Cedric Ikpo, Thunder Fellows executive director, said in a press release. “Each Fellow is investing in themselves by committing to sustained development within this incredible program.”
National partners support Thunder program
Founded by the Oklahoma City Thunder and CAA Sports, a division of leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Thunder Fellows is designed to unlock new opportunities in sports, technology, and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area.
In addition to the Thunder and CAA, other local and national organizations have joined the effort – including Google, Post Oak Automotive, HBO, NBA, MidFirst Bank, University of Tulsa, Langston University, MIT, NASA, Roux Media, Code.org, and Tulsa Regional Stem Alliance.
During the 30-week program, students will get an in-depth look at a variety of disciplines within Thunder basketball and business operations. Fellows will work on interactive, real-world projects and receive professional coaching from industry leaders nationwide.
“I hope this shows the general public what can happen when you invest time and resources into our future,” Ikpo previously told The Black Wall Street Times.