The Foundation was founded by a group of individuals to provide educational programs for Native youth, yet is not owned by its Founders. It is governed by a Board of Directors – a group of individuals with strong business credentials – who’s role predominately includes review and approval of the annual budget and strategic plan. Contrary to “for-profit” companies, our profits at year-end are reserved by the Foundation and utilized for the proceeding year’s budget. Hence, the IRS grants non-profits a “tax exempt” status and tax credit to donors to enhance the Foundation’s programs for the Youth and Communities the Foundation serves.
Based on acknowledgement of Native American youth’s talent and love for the game, NABI Founders recognized basketball was a perfect tool to bring Native youth to a week-long program. A week-long program comprised of opportunities to inspire and create scholarship opportunities resulting in more youth earning his/her college degree. Because of this, Founder’s Mark West of the Phoenix Suns, Scott Podleski (late) of the Arizona Rattlers, and GinaMarie Scarpa of the A.C. Green Youth Foundation, embarked on a journey to launch the NABI Foundation in 2002. A journey that would prosper due to their numerous resources and years of experience in the sport and not-for-profit arena, as well as endorsement and support from Jerry Colangelo. Fittingly, it has become a nationally recognized Foundation, providing educational programs for Native American high school students.
The NABI Tournament has become the largest all Native American Basketball Invitational, and the first all Native American Basketball Tournament sanctioned by the NCAA (2007). Most importantly, it has awarded over $250,000 in scholarship funds, as it is an organization about more than basketball, yet an educational platform that provides Native American youth a vehicle to succeed beyond the court.