Interview by Jan Osborn. Photos provided by Dallas Mavs Foundation.
The Mavs Foundation is dedicated to building a stronger community by empowering youth, women, and families who need it most through financial support, advocacy and service. Each year the Mavs Foundation provides thousands of dollars in grants, basketball courts, reading and learning centers, and special projects to organizations throughout North Texas. We recently had the opportunity to visit with Katie Edwards, SVP External Affairs & President Mavs Foundation at Dallas Mavs, and she shares about the value she places on community, as well as the future of philanthropy in North Texas.
Katie, you have been very involved in the Dallas community over the years. Where did you grow up and how was giving back a part of your upbringing?
I grew up in Wichita, Kansas with parents that came from families with strong values about giving back to the less fortunate. As a small child, I remember volunteering with my mother at our local food bank and looking directly into the eyes of a little girl my age when her family took the bag of food home—understanding gratitude and how you can help others was an important lesson for us. I also remember my dad leading the efforts to fundraise and build Saint Mark United Methodist Church for the black community in Wichita—faces that didn’t look like mine. Taking us out of our comfort zone to attend church that wasn’t like mine and how we were surrounded by people who accepted us like family, really opened my eyes, and my parents continued to expose us to different communities and experiences. There was always a respect for people who came from different backgrounds and I was taught to have an open mind, to listen to people who think differently than I do and to think for myself, with an understanding that we have a responsibility to take care of each other and give what we can.
Mark Cuban made a concerted effort to take community service in the Mavs Foundation to the next level, and the Mavs have been a great example in the Dallas community in supporting the local workforce and nonprofits. How did your personal values come into alignment with the Mavs to prioritize that generosity?
I believe I’m extraordinarily lucky to work for a company and for leaders like Mark Cuban and Cynt Marshall that see community and taking care of people as the number one priority. Of course, we are a basketball team, and we want to win games and provide the highest level of entertainment and experience for our fans, but it’s bigger than that. In every decision we make, not only are we charged with asking is it financially responsible, but we are also challenged to ask are we making a difference in our community and are we taking care of our people. It’s core to who we are as an organization and I feel lucky that my personal passion for serving others matches with those values and that I have the honor of expanding our corporate social responsibility even further.
Cynthia Marshall is one of the most well-respected leaders in our community and has worked to get women’s representation on the leadership team at the Mavs to 50%. She has said that you are smart, talented, and work really hard. What is it like to be a part of an organization where you are valued equally, no matter your gender?
First, I very much appreciate those words from someone I greatly admire. Second, when you work for an organization where every voice matters and everybody belongs, there is a freedom in being able to focus on the work. Many of us, based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation and lots of reasons, have experienced the burden of fighting to be heard. When you take away those barriers and respect each other for what we bring to the table, we can get so much more done.
The Mavs Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2020-2021 grant season. Could you tell us about the different grants that are available and who is eligible to apply?
The Mavs Foundation supports the North Texas community by assisting youth, women and families in need through financial support, advocacy and service. The Mavs Foundation has provided a variety of nonprofits with more than $5 million dollars in support through grants, basketball court renovations, reading and learning center development and special projects.
Eligible nonprofits must be 501(c)3 public charities operating programs within 75 miles of the American Airlines Center, have an active nonprofit status for at least two years and provide programming that benefits children, women or families in need.
For 24 years the Mavs Foundation has changed lives through support of programs for families struggling with homelessness and hunger, foster care, education, victims of domestic abuse, disaster relief and much more. During the 2019-2020 Dallas Mavericks season, the Mavs Foundation granted $1.1 million to 44 deserving organizations. This includes two basketball court/playground renovations at The Dallas County Juvenile Department and Family Gateway, support of a computer resource lab at Arlington Life homeless shelter, the creation of a reading and learning center at Youth World in South Dallas, as well as hundreds of thousands in grants through the COVID-19 Relief Fund, support following the Dallas tornadoes (that was this year!) and continuation of program grants for nonprofits serving so many critical needs right now.
Learn more about past grants at www.mavs.com/community/dallas-mavericks-foundation/dallas-mavericks-foundation-past-grants/
How important has it been to collaborate with other nonprofits and foundations in order to see a larger impact in the Dallas community?
We know we are not the experts in all things and we rely on our nonprofit and philanthropic partners to help us impact our communities. We hope our support, both financially and with the power of our brand to build awareness, is a catalyst to amplify their impact on the frontlines.
Now more than ever we have embraced the idea that “We’re All In This Together.” Collaborating with as many organizations and philanthropic partners as we can has allowed us to be quick and nimble and respond to the need as effectively as possible.
How are you encouraging your team during this unstable time in our country?
This has been a rough year for all of us. We are all facing challenges from COVID, but then to add the social unrest and racism that can pull us apart…it’s important to remember how we can be there for each other and that there are brighter days ahead. It’s about what we can do today and what we can do tomorrow to be that light in someone’s life – and we can do it together.
How can the community come alongside The Mavs Foundation to support organizations that are doing good work?
The Mavs Foundation welcomes everyone to be part of the #MFFL family! Whether it be organizations seeking funding, businesses and individuals supporting our programs and fundraiser events, purchasing COVID relief tees, or repping the organization with a Mavs face mask – there is plenty of opportunity to get in the game!
Learn more about the Mavs Foundation at www.mavsfoundation.com, read more on COVID support here or hear updates on the Mavs Take Action plan to address racial inequities here. DONATE NOW at https://dallas-mavericks-foundation.square.site/
Mavs Foundation COVID-19 Response: The Mavs Foundation COVID-19 Support Fund was created to support nonprofits in North Texas, serving those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds raised for the Mavs Foundation will go toward organizations providing critical needs such as access to food and education, childcare for healthcare workers, resources for the rise in domestic violence and child abuse and support to others negatively impacted by COVID-19.