John Calipari considers himself to be lucky. Anyone who throws around the term luck clearly recognizes that hard work and sacrifice are also a part of the equation. But Calipari understands that it was anything but a forgone conclusion that he would end up where he is right now. Calipari recently spoke with the folks at KyForward.com about his luck, his purpose and how he strives to give back. He wants to not only use the position he has earned in life to give back, but he also wants to set an example for others to do the same.
In the article, Calipari rehashes his humble upbringing and the value his parents placed on education– in particular a college education– which was one step further than they had gone themselves. His mother told him not to let his surroundings define him and to reach for more. Calipari now sits in a position of great influence. He is the head men’s basketball coach at arguably the biggest basketball school in America. He understands his reach can stretch much further though.
“I am the coach, and that’s my job,” he says, pointing to a big sign painted on his wall, as if he might forget:
COACH YOUR TEAM
“So yes, I coach basketball, but if that’s all I do, I cheat the position. I’ve been blessed. I want to set an example for giving back.”
John Calipari and his wife began taking big steps during his time in Memphis to reach out to the community, to do their part to afford opportunities to people who may not otherwise happen into good fortune.
Through the Calipari Family Foundation for Children Fund at the CFGM, they could ask that their charitable donations go to qualified nonprofits, could respond to the CFGM’s recommendations, and could be sure all contributions were reported appropriately and met all legal standards. Primarily, they asked that their funds focus on “children,” in the broadest sense.
In all, Calipari says the family has given a substantial amount through the CFGM fund. The grants have helped do such things as endow scholarships and support churches.
“Ellen and I consider giving a private matter; that is, we don’t give in order to draw attention to ourselves,” he said. “In fact, one of the reasons we have given through the community foundation in Memphis is so we can quietly, anonymously help others.”
However, the Caliparis do sometimes choose to publicize their support of certain causes and organizations about which they are passionate. The reason for doing this, Calipari says, is to raise awareness, to encourage the public also to become active in supporting these same causes and organizations.
Calipari and his wife Ellen are now beginning to turn their focus to how they can extend similar philanthropic activity to their new home in Lexington. Though they will continue to support the charities already established in Memphis, they are ready to take a bigger step in Lexington. The Calipari’s have already begun the process, contributing to various charities throughout the state. One of the first steps has begun, with The Calipari Foundation, Inc. registering with the Secretary of State. Once the charitable status of the Calipari Foundation has been granted in Kentucky, Calipari and his wife Ellen will look to more clearly define the direction the charity will take.
Calipari expects to be aggressive in giving-back – and, at least initially, expects to focus on financial literacy for grade school children, a Catholic schools initiative (similar to Memphis’ Jubilee Schools) – because he believes every child should have the option of a values-based education – and childhood obesity, which he knows is a serious problem in Kentucky.
Calipari understands the influence being the head coach in a basketball-driven state like Kentucky awards him. Calipari hopes to use that influence and visibility to promote his charitable causes. With great power comes great responsibility, and Calipari and his wife Ellen both seem ready to set an example of giving back to the community in a more aggressive manor now that they are settle in the Bluegrass.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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