Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris Donates $1 Million Through Innovative Charity ‘Draft’
Tobias Harris had 180 million reasons to re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency this past summer. But the 27-year-old from Upstate New York wanted to extend his commitment to the City of Brotherly Love off the court.
Rather than simply starting a new chapter of Tobias’ Troops in Philly or giving a chunk of his newfound wealth to one organization in particular, the eight-year veteran out of Tennessee decided to divvy up donations among a selection of charities through a “draft”—an idea that came out of a brainstorming session with his team.
"I said, 'That's a good idea. Let's do a draft, like an NBA draft,'" he told ESPN. "It was really cool how it worked out."
After determining the best organizations to support—with help from Latria Graham, the president and CEO of Graham Leak Branding—Tobias wound up splitting $1 million between nine different charities, with $600,000 staying in Philadelphia, through a “community draft” held at Mastery Prep Elementary Charter School in town. Donations were awarded in order of smallest amount to largest, with each charity earning recognition along with the additional funding.
"We need our community, we need our city to be behind us," Tobias said. "And we have to empower our city and kids, young kids who look up to us as athletes, as basketball players.”
Many of the recipients of his generosity focus their efforts on boosting childhood literacy. That’s no coincidence: Tobias is an avid reader himself, and has often been found diving into books in the locker room before games throughout his NBA career.
"Reading is huge," he said. "I truly believe knowledge is power, and I want really kids to understand ... [it] is okay to walk around with a book and being okay with reading, that [reading] is cool. You don't have to think that isn't cool and that education isn't cool.
"We really want our kids, and our youth, to understand that one, knowledge is power, and two, you don't have to be shy about being educated and being ahead of the learning curve."
Here's a look at the charities to which Tobias donated and how much funding each received through the “draft”: