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The3PointFoundation’s basketball program shoots and scores

Lauren Magnuson

If young athletes are going to succeed, they need to complement their success on the court with success in the classroom.

That is the idea behind a boys’ program founded in March 2012, The3PointFoundation. Intended for urban boys participating in leading inner-city basketball programs, the nonprofit mentors Boston’s youth in both a summer and a year-long program focusing on both academics and character development.

“We’re really looking to help young boys improve themselves,” said Andrew Mirken, co-founder and CEO of the foundation, who has coached basketball for over 20 years at programs in and around Boston.

Mirken said the concept was to be able to help young boys with their character, education and basketball skills in a single program, with the goal of creating four-year college graduates who are positive citizens in their community.

Starting with about 20 fourth-graders in their after school program, Mirken said they hope to have about 200 participants in the next five to seven years.

The after-school program partners with Chyten, the tutoring and test preparation company that designed The3PointFoundation’s curriculum. Participants work on homework and reading, writing and mathematics twice a week at the Reggie Lewis Center.

The boys also have two basketball sessions each week, one led by Bobby Martin, a former NBA player, and the other run by No Books No Ball (NBNB), a 23-year-old community basketball program from which Mirken recruited most of his inaugural group this year.

Tony Richards, NBNB founder and executive director, began his program as a way to show youth the important link between athletic and academic achievement, much like The3PointFoundation.

“When I evaluate kids that need that extra assistance,” Richards said, “I’ll recommend that these kids get assistance from [them].”

Richards has seen those boys change since they’ve joined the new program.

“Just seeing kids engaged and involved, just seeing their commitment in the classroom … I’ve seen a difference in their commitment to get better,” Richards said.

The foundation also relies on a staff of coaches and mentors like program coordinator Kyle Casey, who helps run classes and assists students with both their homework and basketball skills.

“I took this year off from school,” said the rising senior and basketball player at Harvard University. “I have to work. I was looking for something to do and give back to the community,” Casey said.

“You see them learning and also enjoying it so its a good feeling to see them succeed. … It’s a different way to give back rather than just a camp or a clinic. It’s a way to impact these kids’ lives on a more real level,” Casey said.

One of those kids is Preston Stephens, who began in The3PointFoundation’s summer camp program last July and has continued on through the school year. His father, also Preston Stephens, said their near goal is to enroll Preston in a private school for seventh grade.

“His attitude has been great. It’s broadening his horizons. He really looks forward to going,” Stephens said.

Stephens said that while his son always enjoyed schoolwork, he has seen an improvement in his maturity as well.

“I just think it’s an excellent program, and I just hope that people take advantage of it,” he said.

Mirken says he has hopes to eventually expand the foundation across the state, the region and even the country.

“Basketball … teaches so many principles that are applicable for life,” Mirken said. “We want to help them achieve their goals.”