I AM because WE ARE

Last year, Philadelphia Youth Basketball created our I AM because WE ARE program to help young men before they commit criminal acts that they will regret for the rest of their lives. Young men will connect with their fellow peers and Coach-Mentors for on-court and off-court components for the second cohort. We firmly believe that I AM because WE ARE has the ability to help these promising young men identify, develop, and surface their intellectual, personal, social, emotional, civic, and career talents and aspirations as they select pathways that will lead them to a more positive and fulfilling life, while helping make Philadelphia safer for everyone.

The second cohort of I Am Because We Are will run from January 24th, 2022 to April 29th, 2022.

Check out the I Am Because We Are Flyer!Interested in joining? Fill out our participation intake form!

Half of I Am Because We Are focuses on workshops on social and emotional skills such as positive leadership, building positive relationships with peers and adults, masculinity, self-control, goal setting, and positive social capital. The other half of programming uses the transcendent, iconic sport of basketball as a hook to bridge gaps between participants and Coach-Mentors by engaging in skill-building, strength & conditioning, and teamwork development. Many life lessons learning attributes emerge naturally through the sport. Part of our attention is to build a supportive community for not only the participating young people but also the adult staff team. Leadership development of coaches and mentors, many of whom come from the same communities and circumstances as our young people, is what makes what we do so effective. We firmly believe that our coach-mentors have the ability to help these young people identify, develop, and surface their intellectual, personal, social, emotional, civic, and career talents and aspirations so they can select pathways that will lead them to a more positive and fulfilling life.

The instructional staff is comprised of PYB’s most seasoned and culturally relatable Coach-Mentors Aaron Crump, Jaryn Gardner, and Torre Harrison. Taylor Paul and Weldon “Prince” Bunn of the RVA League for Safer Streets are also fully engaged, providing ongoing training and technical support of this blended staff team, and to ensure that the appropriate culture and norms are set with the participating young people. Key partners include DA Diversion Judge Michael Erdos of Phila Court of Common Pleas and George Mosee of PAAN, assisting with many aspects of programming, including recruitment. 

What makes I AM because WE ARE unique?

From the beginning, participants and coaches will create individualized development plans to ensure every young man has precise goals during and after the program. Each participant will also reflect upon their journey throughout the program, through structured journaling and conversations. The combination of extraordinary and relatable coaches and mentors, coupled with the game of basketball and an array of other programmatic elements, will prove to be highly potent in the lives of all participants. Our Theory of Change and Measurement & Evaluation capabilities is combined with RVA League’s proven ideals and culture.

Although we are confident that a measurable difference in attitude and some Social and Emotional Learning attribute acquisition can be made after a 100+ hour program immersion in the initial cohort, we fully believe that lasting outcomes and impact will require a longer-lasting intervention and an enduring relationship with our organization.​ 


Aaron Crump

2020 Leadership Development Academy Member, MSPP Coach-Mentor

Aaron Crump, son of the late great Hank Gathers, is an engaging mentor who has a strong passion for helping young people reach their goals and achieve their full potential. Aaron currently works for “Work Mt. Airy” as a co-working space manager. He received his high school diploma from Cheltenham High School.

Read Aaron accept the Jeremy Nowak Urban Innovation Award on PYB’s behalf

Jaryn Garner

2021 HoopHers Spring and Evening Clinic and 2020 MSPP Coach-Mentor

Jaryn Garner attended undergrad at the University of Virginia before she transferred to Saint Joseph’s University, where she studied Kinesiology. At SJU, Jaryn received a full scholarship to play basketball. She spent time volunteering as an AAU coach, Special Olympics coach, and a camp counselor. She also worked at the Boys & Girls Club in Virginia, which was a very rewarding experience for her. Recently, she received her Masters in Health Administration from Saint Joseph’s University.

Darren White-Green

2020 Leadership Development Academy Member, MSPP Coach-Mentor