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Mentoring advocate Bill Russell establishes grant program as part of Legacy Project

Posted by Eric Bleier on May 24, 2011

Bill Russell encouraging people to be mentors in 2008

Bill Russell encouraging people to be mentors in 2008

Joe Murphy / NBAE / Getty Images

Bill Russell Legacy Project includes support for mentoring programs in Boston

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell visited Memphis in 2008 to talk about the need for adults to spend a little time as a mentor to youth, and he will continue his vocal support of mentoring by providing grants to ensure youth in Boston have access to quality, structured mentoring programs.

The Mass Mentoring Partnership, a MENTOR affiliate, is partnering with the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and the City of Boston on the Bill Russell Legacy Project. In addition to establishing the Bill Russell Mentoring Grant Program, which Mass Mentoring will administer, the project will erect a statue of Russell in Boston to celebrate his achievements as the greatest champion in the history of professional sports, as a national leader in human rights and as a dedicated advocate for youth mentoring.

“We are so proud to play a role in this effort that Mayor Menino and the Celtics have made so reflective of Bill’s lifetime of activism, as well as his many iconic accomplishments in Boston,” Mass Mentoring Partnership’s Chief Executive Officer David Shapiro said. “They have created a living legacy of Bill’s catalytic social justice leadership that will inspire future generations of our city’s youth through the proven impact of mentoring.”

In his remarks last week, Russell noted a poem that made an impression on him in high school. The James Russell Lowell piece read: “It is not what we give, but what we share. Because the gift, without the giver, is bare.” Russell also mentioned that his mother gave him “Felton” as his middle name after Felton Clark, a former president of Southern University in Louisiana. “It was a reminder that his goal was to get to college,” Russell said. “I’m trying to share that with the next generations of Americans.”

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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.