The Hope Segun Foundation has recently launched an outreach program that targets Native American youth.
The foundation is named after its founder, Hope Segun, a 6ft 11in Nigerian who came to the United States in 2001. Hope’s inspiration growing up was his grandmother, who raised him along with two brothers and two cousins. “She took the time to prepare me for the good days and the bad days,” he says. With his grandmother’s emotional support, he went on to achieve success as a young athlete. Hope first attended Eastern Wyoming College on a basketball scholarship, then graduated in 2005 from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego with a degree in Business Administration.
Hope, who says he always had the spirit to make a difference in people’s lives, started the foundation while he was recovering from being in a coma for six days. This life-changing experience led him to create a program to change the lives of young people all across the country. Hope’s main goals are to teach life skills to the youth through team sports, mainly basketball. The Hope Foundation has four programs to help the youth.
1) Yearly Essay Contest in which the foundation will help young people tell their stories and help develop their reasoning, literacy and writing. The top writer will use the prizes to buy school supplies and become The Hope Segun Foundation’s distinguished essayist.
2) Basketball Camps: In his summer basketball camp, Hope makes sure each camp has a theme that is important to kids. This year’s theme was “BELIEVE” – Hope wants his kids “To believe in the skills that we teach and also in their teammates.”
3) Youth Mentoring: Hope and his wife, Michelle, who makes up the other part of this dynamic duo, help build kids’ self-esteem and self-worth.
4) Making Blankets for Foster Kids: They make blankets for the foster kids who attend their camp.
A Salem, Oregon native, Michelle was a Sprague High School basketball, track and volleyball star. She graduated from Portland State with a Liberal Arts degree and is currently earning her MBA in Business Marketing from Marylhurst University near Lake Oswego.
Michelle is attracted to the Hope Segun Foundation not just because her husband established it, but “because it teaches people not to give up hope no matter what the circumstances, incorporating the skills in basketball to teach life skills.”
Michelle believes that a “critical need for our youth is to get engaged in activities and make the most of the opportunity at hand. And part of what the Hope Segun Foundation does is to encourage kids to learn life skills through playing basketball while having fun, too.”
The Hope Foundation is now making a concerted effort to connect with Native American youth. Hope and Michelle where inspired by a Diane Sawyer 20/20 documentary about life on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Michelle and Hope felt “with what we are doing it would work well to take this opportunity to each reservation across the country as we join hands in contributing to their development. We think every kid has a desire and a passion and we are trying to be the bridge for them to make their dreams come true.” When asked if she thinks Native American youth have specific needs the foundation can address, Michelle responded, “I think so in the sense that by giving them an opportunity to attend our basketball camp they can realize the possibilities that are out there for them. We hope that with this medium [Indian County Today] they’ll contact us.”