ETG - Corey Wilson, Indiana Pacers Foundation

August 02, 2022 00:24:25

Hosted By

Eric Kilbride

Show Notes

In this episode, we interview Corey Wilson, Vice President of Community Engagement and Executive Director of the Indiana Pacers Foundation. We discuss their expanded funding priorities (diversity, equity and inclusion, financial literacy, combating food deserts, etc.), how they persevered during COVID and how they are working alongside community partners to improve the overall impact in the State of Indiana.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:15 Welcome back to eliminate the gap as you and I found our way to each other. Again, you would think that would be, uh, a real simple thing that we would absolutely know what to do with that. Um, I had it in my head that we would go to a park and do kind of a remote and bring nature to you all. And then what did I forget about, he forgot about we, we need signal a service. And I was like, so are we gonna hotspot this thing? <laugh> and he looked at me, he was like, oh. And I was like, oh boy, I didn't and think about that. And so then we went to a place that's near where we're getting service out from here and we were able to get service, but then, and anybody who knows me, uh, well knows that you not care for the bugs. Speaker 1 00:01:03 Um, and the NATS were out, in course, I was like, they're technically, while they're bugs, they're not, they're not like bug bugs. No. So it's very Naty out there. So they were see we're we're back inside. Um, and it's been a great summer so far. In fact, it's almost time for you to go back to school. Yeah. <laugh> not, not so thrilled about that. You got, uh, football starting, I think tomorrow. Yes. Yes. Very excited about that though. Yeah, I sure I'm sure. Uh, yeah, but it's been a great summer and thanks to so many of you for continuing to, to watch and, and listen and share comments. Um, we've had some interesting subjects, um, and today's, uh, we're excited to bring to you as well. Yes. It's about a year ago that we did, uh, a podcast with the, uh, Greg Taylor, the executive director of the MBA foundation. Speaker 1 00:01:54 Um, and so we thought we might go to a local, uh, foundation of a MBA team, uh, today. And so we'll be speaking to, uh, Corey Wilson. Who's the executive director of the Pacers foundation. Yeah. Really looking forward to talking to Corey, find out what's going on in the ground down in or up in Indianapolis, uh, from where I'm from. But, uh, so yeah, I'm really looking forward to that. I got a chance to be in Indianapolis for a little bit, uh, couple of months ago. So yeah, I'm really excited cuz now I can actually, you know, have, have a foundation of where things actually are. That's city's that here in a moment. Welcome back guys to here. We're here today. Well actually work together still again. <laugh> and we have Corey Wilson with us. He is the vice president of community engagement and the executive director of the Indiana Pacers foundation. So we're really glad to have you here today with us. Speaker 2 00:03:04 Thank you. Glad to be here with you all. Speaker 1 00:03:06 Yes, appreciate it. So we'll go ahead and get this kicked off with you. Can you just tell us a little bit about the Pacers foundation and what you guys do? Speaker 2 00:03:14 Sure. So the Pacers foundation has been around since 1993, so we're coming up on our 30 year anniversary. Wow. In really recognizing and supporting 5 0 1 <inaudible> organizations that are youth focused here in the state of Indiana. And, uh, that has expanded just slightly as, uh, most organizations have from a social impact perspective and thinking about social justice and equity and inclusion. Um, but still going back to the core of youth is really the foundation of what we do. Speaker 1 00:03:48 Perfect. And, and, and I just, uh, I know and familiar with pastry foundation from its inception. And so just taking what you said about kind of an expanded role that the organization's taken, one of the things that's, to me more unique than other, uh, funders, um, is, is that you've really begun to, to target in on certain zip codes and certain needs within those zip codes. Not that you're not there still for, throughout the state of Indiana and others, but, but I know that there's an emphasis there. So help us understand how that came about as kind of a, an intentional decision and then how that's working so far for you all. Speaker 2 00:04:26 Sure. So, um, a, a couple things there, one, we are the Indiana pacer, so you're exactly right. We, uh, actually by some state regulations need to be engaged across the 92 counties with the slight carve out around the Chicago land area with Gary and other, uh, being in the Chicago bulls market. Um, but we really pride ourselves on doing things across the state, but that not withstanding. Um, we also have observed opportunities within our community engagement and our foundation perspective where we for a long history had been great at doing a lot all across the state. Speaker 1 00:05:06 Right. Speaker 2 00:05:07 Uh, I'm sorry, excuse me, a little all across the state. And so, um, as a result of some of the things that happened in 2020, uh, we really started to look at that and say, how can we be more impactful from our investments, from our activations as a company within the communities that, uh, may be underserved or that are underserved. And so here in Indianapolis specifically, we really looked at that to what Eric just alluded to, to think about certain zip codes that we can focus on. And there's zip codes that, um, other organizations, other municipal agencies equally have, uh, begun to pour into well before 2020. Uh, but we wanted to come alongside and really leverage the resources that we have, but almost equally as importantly, is our brand, uh, coming to the table with the Pacers are doing this as a different level of credibility and awareness and insight to the community about some of the things that we are trying to positively impact. Speaker 2 00:06:12 And so those five zip codes that we're focusing single one today, uh, even through COVID, we've been able to have some early successes in engagement. It's a little bit early to, to talk about some of the, the results of those, just again, because of COVID and these are long decades, long historical, uh, challenges that these communities have faced, but I'm really happy of the progress that we've been able to make to this point in developing those relationships and, and, and really learning what we can do. Uh, we, we, we really pride ourselves on not showing up and saying, we're the Pacers. You should take these, you know, a hundred basketballs and be happy about it, but really learning what the community needs, uh, to then proven forward our resources, our partners, our networks, to add some positivity to those, those situations. Speaker 1 00:07:04 Cool. Can you like elaborate a little bit more in regards to what you look for on the ground, in, in terms of those zip codes? Like, is there anything in particular, uh, of the organizations that are already there or is it better for you to go with partnerships you already have and come in, obviously you wanna have some connection to the community, but what is it that you're looking for? Speaker 2 00:07:31 Yeah. That the answer to that is yes. Uh, all the above. Um, we, we actually do a little bit of both, so I'll maybe I'll, I'll phrase a response to that in the, in the areas of grassroots and grass tops. And so the grass tops organizations are the known CDC, um, community centers, um, and other organizations within these zip codes or that serve those zip codes that, you know, you could rattle off your tongue in, in any community across the, the country. So we continue to support those organizations at that GRA what I'll call the grass tops level, uh, for the purpose of this answer. But then I also really, uh, am trying to identify, or we are trying to identify and think about, uh, grassroots organizations as well. Those are the smaller, maybe a staff of one, um, maybe two, uh, people who have a different look and, and understanding of neighborhood specific issues. Speaker 2 00:08:36 Um, uh, you know, I, we do have some relationships now that we're starting to develop with individuals that can say, oh, that's miss Sally's house. She lives at 1, 2, 3, 4, uh, Jones street. And, uh, they have an amazing financial literacy program that they're just trying to get off the ground, you know? Um, and while that may seem like that, um, would be Fudo to engage someone like that. Those are the types of programs that are gonna have the impact that is needed in that community, because she knows in this fictitious example what's needed in the community that she, that she represents and where she lives. And so those grassroots organization efforts are the other ones that we're trying to really highlight and, and hopefully again, engage in a different way than just singularly at that grass tops level. Speaker 1 00:09:28 Um, so one of the things that we, you alluded to it a little bit here, but, but clearly impacted a lot of things. Right. And so, um, so not only are you a funder, but you are also the Pacers have ways in which they fund mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so, like, for example, in games, and then there, we had a, a season where we didn't really have a lot of people in the stadium and things like that. Tell us about kind of what creatively you all been able to kind of think about, or, or how you've kind of overcome that or continuing to overcome that, um, in terms of, you know, fundraising and funding. Speaker 2 00:10:06 Sure. So, you know, it, it has been tough, um, from a fundraising perspective, not too dissimilar from, from other organizations, um, just to give you some context, our primary sources of revenue are we, um, do a masquerade kind of formal gala. Um, we have a golf outing. Um, we have this year, it's actually happening tonight, hopefully by me saying that doesn't date this too much. Uh, but we have, uh, a big golf, um, uh, uh, it's a putting exercise for our fever fund at what is, uh, it's a competitor to top golf that we're doing tonight here in Indianapolis. And then, uh, we have our license plate. So personalized license plates for the Pacers foundation are the primary sources of revenue. Uh, I'm sorry. And the 50 50 raffle, right. Um, are the, the primary sources. And so each one of those took a hit in its own unique way during, um, during COVID, you know, what, what I'm excited about is one, we, we do have a benevolent over owner and organization that was able to sustain us, which is, you know, not always the case with other organizations through the trials and tribulations of COVID, um, to where we continued to make grants throughout the time that, uh, COVID was at its height, even though we went, uh, for a number of months with no events here. Speaker 2 00:11:35 Um, so that, you know, we canceled the masquerade, uh, for two years, uh, the golf outing did happen, but it was, you know, severely restricted. So all of the things that everyone else has experienced, um, so we haven't had to be as creative, um, as some organizations that, you know, went completely dry and, you know, there wasn't any, any revenue coming in. Um, but we're, we're excited now that, you know, start of this season, we're gonna relaunch our 50, 50 back in our, uh, in our games. Um, the masquerade is happening in October. Uh, I told you about the, the event tonight with our fever and, you know, the golf outing and scheduled as well. So, uh, we we've been able to come out of it O okay. But it, it's definitely been, been tough and, you know, we're watching those numbers very closely and, and mine also, I guess I'll overshare this piece of information, you know, with the market, doing what it has done recently, you know, our investments have taken a significant hit sure. Um, of, of dollars that were in, that are invested in the market. And so, although our returns are, our losses are better than the losses of the market. I mean, you, you know, we're still down. Right. And so we're, we're conscious of that and watching that as well. Speaker 1 00:12:47 Um, yeah. And, and that's just, uh, a common thing, but through some of these difficult times is resiliency, right. And innovation and creativity. Um, so, uh, I'm glad that things are kind of for all of us, right. Moving kinda in an upswing, uh, motion. One of the, uh, we've interviewed, uh, the, um, MBA foundation executive director about a year ago, honestly. And, and so, um, in learning so much about what it is that they're doing, and I know there's a connectedness between, uh, the franchises foundations and the work that the NBA foundation's doing around economic empowerment of, uh, black and brown, uh, teens and communities. So you mentioned on the outset about things that happened in 2020 and how you things have expanded diversity, equity, inclusion, et cetera. Tell us a little bit more about how the Pacers foundation is aligning with maybe some of the efforts with the, uh, MBA foundation. Sure. Speaker 2 00:13:52 Can I, could I just go back and say one other thing about, um, sorry, your, your previous question and that, uh, just thinking about diversification of revenue. And so the other thing that is really on our minds here is to think about the next generation of, um, donors and really what are the strategic efforts that we are cultivating to engage them. So to the question you asked previously about what are we doing? That's innovative. I don't know if this is as innovative, but it is something that we have not done. And that is we have largely relied on those big ticket items or events that I just referenced or routed off to you. And those are attend, usually attended by those well-established, um, donors, uh, in our, in our community that can write those big checks. But, um, we are making a strategic effort and intentional, um, plan for engaging those 5, 10, 15, $20 donors to engage in some of those events that I just spoke about, but also new ones that we have in the pipeline to bring out this year, uh, that will start to really cultivate a different class or a different group of people towards the ideas of philanthropy. Speaker 2 00:15:09 And so I just wanted to add that in to the, to the previous question, you know, and I would say to your question about how we have partnered with the NBA foundation and, um, the efforts around D E and I. So, um, one it's at the core of, of, you know, our organization D and I, and this was before, you know, things, you know, surrounding George Floyd and, and social justice. We, we were excited about the fact that the NBA foundation, I, I is in existence and, you know, our owner, like the other 30 owner owners of the, uh, NBA are giving 10 million each of the next 10 years, uh, to this effort to see the NBA foundation. Um, we're excited that, uh, the center for leadership and development here in Indianapolis was a recipient, um, of dollars from the NBA foundation. Um, we actually took them by there when they visited in March of this year. Speaker 2 00:16:04 And, um, it was announced, it hasn't been announced, um, publicly, um, but the organization knows that they're, they were, uh, received a renewal of their grant. Oh, nice to be announced, uh, here in August, I believe. So. I think that just shows the continued commitment and partnership that we have. Um, it's really good to have that thought partner at the table that can quite honestly add some additional gas to, to our efforts of philanthropy and social impact. And so there have been several cases where organizations have requested funds from the Pacers foundation, and I've been able to have conversations with them about, um, maybe it might be a yes or it might be a no, but also there are other organizations that equally might be keenly interested in what you're doing and being able to have that, that, uh, warm transition and handoff to the NBA foundation has been fantastic. Speaker 1 00:17:04 Yeah. I remember our conversation with Dennis bland from CD, um, and how important he said your all's relationship was, and, and helping them kind of through that grant process and, and beyond, uh, that's great, uh, that, that is continued relationship and not surprising us, what a wonderful, uh, thing that it is they do. And, and yeah, it's great to kind of see how all these things interconnect, uh, and, and we've been able to kind follow the belting ball as they say that to kind of see how that works. And it's really great that the NBA is doing this. So, yeah, it's off to you guys, the NBA and, and the, the programs out there on the ground doing the, the grassroots, as you said. Speaker 2 00:17:48 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:17:50 So with that in mind, can you tell us a little bit about how you would like to see, uh, the capacity of those community organizations strengthen, uh, to make the greatest impact for the community? Speaker 2 00:18:05 Yeah, I think that really goes kind of what I was saying earlier that, you know, there's some really creative approaches to community development, community revitalization that are happening at that grassroots level that just haven't had the chance to really get to the table for, um, for programmatic dollars, um, for capital dollars, um, or just, you know, overall, um, raising the awareness about the organizations. And so that's what I'm excited about. Um, and, and seeing some of that happen, not just from us, but other philanthropic organizations here in the city that are all, you know, thinking about that grassroots level. Um, there are, there's a really strong philanthropic network here in Indianapolis, uh, with, you know, us being the headquarters for the Lily endowment, which is, I think number two, um, largest endowment in the, in the, in the nation, um, amongst others. Um, there are a number of meetings where we are all, as funders are attending to really understand what other organizations are doing and how we can come alongside are the things that I'm most excited about. And, you know, quite honestly, through some of the things that happened in 2020 and, and beyond those relationships have been strengthened and, uh, more laser focus, even when some of the things around D E and I, that we were just talking about are becoming prevalent, that, that I think are a positive thing for, for our community and our state. Speaker 1 00:19:35 Yeah, it it's. And just again, recognizing what's happening, not only in Indianapolis, but in several communities around the country, just even establishing a position, a senior level position in a lot of organizations that focuses specifically on D E and I, right. So that in itself is a step and then putting some teeth and additional, you know, company dollars behind it is, is, and you see this kind of coordination within the nonprofit community and the leaders, you know, so that the, as we time goes on, we'll continue to see improvements and, and see kind of that infrastructure being built. Um, that will make a difference. So that's, uh, uh, not surprising, but I'm glad that you shared that, that there's this alignment with all the key funders in, in the city. Speaker 2 00:20:19 Yeah. And, and we're seeing some of that to your point earlier about, um, uh, having a senior D and I person here. Uh, she, uh, when we were looking at the opportunity to bring on someone, you know, one of the things I talked about was whomever, it may be, cannot be an only lonely, you know, you can't do this work by yourself. And so, you know, actually on the street right now is an, an open position for, for a manager level person. That's gonna work alongside our senior D and I person. And so I think that, that, again, shows that continued commitment to, to this work. And, and, you know, my, my office works very closely, both of the foundation side and community engagement with our D and I, and in making sure that we are keeping those topics front of mind. Speaker 1 00:21:08 Excellent. And, and, and I'm, it's always heartening to hear, uh, for sure, kind of the progress that's being made. Um, as we kind of bring this to close, one of the things that we always like to ask of our guests, and this was not shared with you in advance. So feel free to take a moment. Um, we always like to ask, because we're coming at this from a youth development perspective, uh, that's been our career. This is how we, uh, think. And so we always wanna give our guests an opportunity to share kind of who was that important person in there in your life, as you were growing up, could be a parent, could be a coach whomever, right. Um, that really guided you kind shared kind of pushed. You kind of was tough love, whatever it might have been. Right. Who was that kind of person in your life and what is it that you feel like they did for you to help you kind of where you are today? Speaker 2 00:21:56 Yeah. I don't know if I have just one. I mean, you talk about it's, it's a village that helps, helps raise you. Um, you know, each, each, I look at three people specifically that really had help in shaping my life and my mom who was, um, the homemaker stayed home with my sister and I to, to raise us, uh, helped me understand the value of hard work, et cetera. My father was the one who was pushing us externally to, to be the best that we could be. But I, I jokingly, uh, used to tell the story that I could find a way to print money. And my father would say, oh, I think that's, that's about a C because he always wanted me to, to be humble and, and have that level of humility and understanding that, you know, don't ever rest on your laurels. Speaker 2 00:22:43 And, and, you know, the third person would be my aunt who, um, is very accomplished in her own right. And attorney accomplished speaker, um, etcetera, um, and, um, her acknowledgement and, and understanding of the world and how business works was very influential for me in, in, from a career development perspective. And so I think it's that, that, uh, mash up of my mother and father and aunt collectively, I see on a daily daily basis, you know, evidence of what they've been able to pour into me and that I try to, you know, leave, uh, hopefully a positive mark on, on our daughter and, and my wife as well. Speaker 1 00:23:28 Well, man, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time here today coming to talk with us and then really sharing some really great stuff. So we hope everyone can take some good things away from this, which I think they will. Yeah. And, and don't worry nobody's watching. So just because you have an event tonight, <laugh> no, it, it, it's all good. And, um, again, we will, uh, share some additional information for those of you that wanna know a little bit more about the works that the Pacers foundation is doing in the community. Um, we'll make that available as well, but Corey, again, thanks so much for the time, uh, today greatly appreciate good being with you.

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