Welcome to the Chuck Cooper Foundation
A non-profit dedicated to honoring the legacy of Chuck Cooper
by helping further the education of our young people.
Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education – Creating equitable pathways to success
The Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education at Point Park University seeks to create equity and opportunities in education and employment for youth and families from communities of color. Focusing on skills necessary for college and career readiness, the center will serve as a convener of resources, providing workshops, college mentors and opportunities to meet with community and business leaders, as well as college faculty. Read more
“CHUCK COOPER: HALL OF FAMER AND BARRIER BREAKER” AIRS ON AT&T SPORTSNET PITTSBURGH
“Chuck Cooper: Hall of Famer and Barrier Breaker” debuted on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — January 18, 2021 — and aired multiple times the rest of the month and throughout February and March. The 60-minute program celebrates the life and Hall of Fame career of basketball pioneer Chuck Cooper, the first African American ever drafted by an NBA team, and the 10th anniversary of the Chuck Cooper Foundation. The show, which was presented by UPMC and hosted by Rob King, was produced by the Chuck Cooper Foundation and Baker Public Relations in cooperation with AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.
“This program is a great avenue for sharing the incredible story of Chuck Cooper,” said Chuck Cooper III, President & CEO of the Chuck Cooper Foundation. “It was an honor to have the show debut on Martin Luther King Jr. Day since my father was a barrier breaker and trailblazer on and off the court. I’m grateful to UPMC and AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh for their roles in helping to bring the show to sports fans of the region.”
“Chuck Cooper: Hall of Famer and Barrier Breaker” features rare video and photographs, and tributes from Boston Celtics legends Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, Duquesne basketball coach Keith Dambrot, Pitt basketball coach Jeff Capel, and others. It also includes presentation of the Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Award to Koppers President & CEO Leroy Ball, Eckert Seamans CEO Tim Hudak accepting the Chuck Cooper Foundation Trailblazer Award on behalf of the firm, and scholarships being awarded to four graduate-level students from local colleges. In addition, PNC is recognized as the presenter of the Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Program.
Chuck Cooper was the Duquesne University All-American who was the first African American ever drafted by an NBA team when he was selected 13th overall by the Boston Celtics in 1950. As a pioneer in his sport, the Pittsburgh native and Westinghouse High School product was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September of 2019. Duquesne’s basketball facility, the former A.J. Palumbo Center, underwent a $45 million renovation and reopened as the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse last year in honor of Chuck’s trailblazing life and career.
About the Foundation
The Chuck Cooper Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to honoring the life and achievements, and continuing the legacy of Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, Charles “Chuck” Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the National Basketball Association, by awarding graduate-level scholarships and providing leadership development programs, mentoring and networking opportunities to underserved students. Upon retiring from the NBA, the Duquesne University alumnus obtained his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota at a time when African-American matriculation to graduate school was a rare achievement. Cooper’s son, Chuck Cooper III, is the founder and president of the Chuck Cooper Foundation. Since 2013, the Chuck Cooper Foundation has awarded more than $280,000 in scholarship support. The Boston Celtics and the NBA continue to be instrumental in helping the Chuck Cooper Foundation achieve its mission by providing financial support and highlighting Chuck Cooper’s ground-breaking basketball career.
Our goal is to propel our students to success in higher education in order to achieve their highest potential in their careers and ultimately, in life.
FOUNDATION’S PARTNERSHIP AND IMPACT
“What we are able to accomplish in our foundation would not be possible without the support and partnership of our corporate, university and community partners. I am so grateful to be able to honor my father’s legacy and to share his deep commitment and passion for education and community!” Chuck Cooper III
Chuck Cooper Foundation Mission
The Chuck Cooper Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to continue the legacy of Charles “Chuck” Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the National Basketball Association, by awarding graduate-level scholarships and providing, leadership development programs, mentoring and networking opportunities to underserved students. Upon retiring from the NBA, the Duquesne University alumnus obtained his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota at a time when African-American matriculation to graduate school was a rare achievement. In 1970, Cooper broke another barrier when Mayor Pete Flaherty named him the Director of Parks and Recreation, becoming the first African-American Department Head for the City of Pittsburgh.
Our current Chuck Cooper Foundation Scholarship Program (CCFSP) focuses on distributing scholarships to high achieving African-American graduate students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by the applicant’s college or university and a commitment to helping undergraduate, middle and high school aged students. We have expanded the program to provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities for our CCFSP scholars as part of the Cooper Leadership Program.
The Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Program, presented by PNC, is a major component of the CCF programming and a mandatory one if receiving a Chuck Cooper Foundation scholarship. The leadership program includes a series of workshops, speakers, mentoring, networking and community outreach. The curriculum was developed with Dr. Mitchel Nickols who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, teaches doctoral classes at Point Park University, has a seasoned career as an NSA speaker, an administrative and executive coach and a leadership development consultant. Some of the specific leadership topics that have been covered in the leadership program include: visioning, emotional intelligence, integrity, humility, servanthood, caring for others, empowering others, developing others, goal setting, leading, modeling, team building, and shared decision making. A key workshop focuses on the participants’ vision for their future. As part of the curriculum, Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Program graduate scholars create personal vision statements that define their aspirations and bring focus and purpose to their life pursuits. These statements are shared with undergraduate scholars and participants in our Beacons of Light outreach program.
Our Beacons of Light Outreach Program provides opportunities for Chuck Cooper Foundation stakeholders, scholarship recipients and leadership program participants to work with students from elementary school to high school. Through these interactions, our college scholars have the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills and gain a sense of accomplishment. Younger students gain relatable role models and peer-level connections with the college world, inspiring them to achieve. Through collaborations with local universities, community organizations and school districts, leadership program participants create and present workshops focusing on a variety of topics including financial literacy, college readiness and personal development.
CHUCK COOPER FOUNDATION LEADERSHIP AWARD
The Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Award recognizes a company and/or individual that has demonstrated exceptional leadership as well as a strong commitment to promoting diversity and outstanding contributions in the community.
- 2011 Bill Nunn, Legendary Steelers Scout and former Editor of the Pittsburgh Courier
- 2012 Bill Strickland, Founder and CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
- 2013 Mike and Kiya Tomlin, Steelers Head Coach and wife
- 2014 Frank Coonelly and the Pittsburgh Pirates
- 2015 Swin Cash, 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, 5x WNBA All-Star, and Philanthropist
- 2016 Charlie Batch, Former NFL Quarterback, and Philanthropist
- 2017 Scott Lammie, CFO and Vice President of UPMC Health Plan
- 2018 Dr. Kathy Humphrey, Senior Vice Chancellor University of Pittsburgh
- 2019 Dr. Chris Howard, President of Robert Morris University
CHUCK COOPER FOUNDATION TRAILBLAZER AWARD
The Chuck Cooper Foundation Trailblazer Award recognizes a company and/or individual that helped to establish the Chuck Cooper Foundation or has partnered with us to develop new opportunities along the pathway of our current and evolving missions.
The recipients have been:
- 2013 Zak Thomas, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
- 2014 Matthew H. Meade, Esquire
- 2015 PNC
- 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins
- 2017 Duquesne University
- 2018 Evan Frazier, Highmark Health
- 2019 Huntington