(OAKLAND, Calif.) NBA Superstar Steph Curry and his entrepreneur wife Ayesha unveiled an exciting new project as part of their Eat. Learn. Play foundation that mobilizes existing school infrastructure to get critical resources to children throughout the East Bay.
The announcement came Wednesday at the East Oakland Youth Development Center to an intimate and excited crowd of kids. The project aims to destigmatize free resources in underserved communities.
“We wanted to make it colorful and have all the hydraulics and antics to have that feeling like when you’re a kid and the ice cream truck would come driving down the street. We wanted kids to feel that same excitement about books and food,” Ayesha Curry told Forbes.
According to the Oakland Literacy Coalition, a non-profit focusing on engaging children with reading, in the 2018-2019 school year just over 35 percent of OUSD's third-grade students read at or above grade level.
The impressive former school bus features three flat screens and can hold up to 35 kids at a time. In total, the renovation costs about $350,000, but the operational costs which include the books and food will be north of $1 million, according to ELP CEO Chris Helfrich. He did note that because the Curry's fund the entirety of the charity's operational costs, all outside donations will go directly to the bus.
The passenger side of the vibrant purple, blue and yellow bus features a mural of Steph shooting and Ayesha cooking and will serve pre-made meals, grocery staples and fresh produce. The driver's side is a free bookstore and library. The bus also features a basketball hoop and a rooftop deck.
“Initially, I wanted to go into areas where there are food deserts — no access to fresh produce within a 5-mile radius,” Ayesha told the Chronicle. “We decided to put it on wheels and meet people where they are.”
Teachers and educators struggled to keep children engaged throughout the pandemic so as delta variant concerns and another possible at-home learning year looms, the Currys hope this project makes education a bit more engaging despite the distance.
“We want to create joy and excitement around learning,” Stephen said. “Teachers are challenged every day with how to make their classrooms fun and make learning cool. I hope we can provide some assistance in that respect.”
The overall goal is to distribute 100,000 books annually to schools throughout Oakland. The books were made available through a partnership with the Oakland Public Library. While it will initially be focused on private events, the Currys made it clear that the long-term goal will be to drive the bus around Oakland elementary schools.
“There are a lot of statistics that if kids are not at reading level by third grade, they are at risk of being left behind,” Stephen said. “We want to help be involved early in the process. “We don’t want to set the expectations that we are going to be driving the bus everywhere. But there will be special occasions where we will be there, for sure, and we want to be able to broadcast that loud and clear.”
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