Ranging from elementary to high school age, the young people are greeted with a hug, high five, or fist bump from Ball Out Academy’s founder, Kenneth Duncan Jr., before hitting the court for a series of basketball drills.
Ball Out Academy aims to improve the self-esteem, academic achievement, and social competence of youth. Basketball is the activity, but participants also learn how to build positive relationships with peers and adults, gain life skills like self-discipline and confidence, and grow in their ability to set and reach goals athletically, academically and personally.
Ball Out’s programs are supported in part by a grant through the Marina Vista/Alder Grove Neighborhood Revitalization Project, facilitated by Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, the City of Sacramento, and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, in the wake of the November 2021 shooting in the community that claimed the life of a child.
“This partnership advances the goals of our Citywide Youth Development Plan & Framework by building 21st century skills, creating a safe environment that honors culture and community, and empowering families to engage in their children’s healthy development,” said Rene Kausin, the City’s youth development program manager.
In addition to night sessions, Duncan and his team facilitate twice monthly “Parents Link Up,” a supportive space for Marina Vista/Alder Grove parents to connect, express their concerns and needs, and build community over a hot meal.
“We have been doing free basketball camps/clinics aka ‘Hoop Sessions’ for the Marina Vista and Alder Grove Community for the last 10 years,” Duncan said. “We are grateful for the support of the City of Sacramento this year to help grow our programs and provide a safe space for our youth to thrive. This program is so much bigger than basketball here. We really focus on encouraging our youth and helping them build confidence and understand they are worthy of being great in all aspects of life.”
As a community-based nonprofit organization, Ball Out Academy relies on individual and corporate donations to continue providing its services at no cost to participants or their families.
“Programs like Ball Out Academy are very crucial to the lives of young people,” Valenzuela said. “They give our youth a sense of community outside of school and home to play, build skills, and grow into the next generation of Sacramentans. I am so glad to see the funding we were able to secure for this community go toward trusted programs like this. When we invest in our youth, we invest in our future.”
For more information about Ball Out Academy, check out their website at balloutacademy.org.
In the last year, the City has provided funding for multiple community-based organizations to host weekend drop-in events for youth in priority neighborhoods.
The Youth Development team is responsible for refining, developing and promoting the City’s overall strategic vision to achieve citywide youth development goals in accord with the Youth Plan.