Calipari jumpstarts initiative to support college minorities

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky coach John Calipari is leading a cause to support minorities and has launched the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative.

Calipari, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker and 35 more college coaches joined with the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation to provide minorities “a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network, and instilling the values of John McLendon: integrity, education, leadership, and mentorship.”

Participants in the initiative will be known as MLI Future Leaders and Calipari is funding five MLI future leaders each for a period of six years. 

“It was really important for me to take a step back these past few weeks and listen (and) now it’s time to take action,” Calipari said. “The MLI is about access and opportunity: real-world experience and networking platforms designed to elevate talented young women and men of color who have previously been ignored by a system that lacks diversity and inclusion. 

“For this to work, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate vehicle than the McLendon Foundation. I’m excited about where we’re headed and feel this is a great first step toward affecting measurable change in our corner of the world.”

The University of Kentucky Athletics Department plans on participating in the initiative starting this fall.

“I hope that other college coaches and schools will join in this great cause,” Calipari said. “College athletics will be the focus of the MLI, but if the initiative can make a broader impact across all levels of athletics and in other industries to help build a path of opportunity for our minority leaders of tomorrow, I’m all for that.”

Andrea Williams, chief operating officer of the College Football Playoff and McLendon Foundation President, said the initiative is “a huge step in the right direction for enhancing the pipeline within our industry.”

“There are many qualified minority individuals who are prepared to make their mark and begin their careers in college athletics, and this program, jumpstarted by coach Calipari, is a great foundation to build on,” she said.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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