Thunder launch program to create opportunities for Black students

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Creative Arts Agency Sports have formed the Thunder Fellows Program, designed to create opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Creative Arts Agency Sports have formed the Thunder Fellows Program, designed to create opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area.

The Thunder announced Tuesday that the program will launch next year.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission will guide the program. It will include students from local colleges and those in grades 8-12 from Tulsa-area schools.

ImpactTulsa, a partnership of representing more than 170,000 students in the Tulsa region, will help identify students to be part of the program. The program will be housed in the Historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, which was known as Black Wall Street before it was burned down in the massacre.

"Our hope is that the Thunder Fellows Program captures the spirit of the Greenwood District while helping to launch and create future opportunities for local area Black youth," Thunder president Sam Presti said. "Our goal is to effect long-term sustainable change in our entire state and provide future-proof skills that can be leveraged for economic empowerment and mobility."

The Thunder and CAA Sports plan to replicate the model in other cities.

"I am proud that the Thunder Fellows Program will both provide tangible learning for the future and also serve as a symbol in the Historic Greenwood District," Thunder chairman Clayton Bennett said in a statement. "We will work tirelessly to make this a program that will create change for generations to come."

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