Stephen and Ayesha Curry make up one of the most popular families in professional sports.
Steph, an NBA MVP and guard for the Golden State Warriors, is one of the most well-known athletes in the country. In fact, he was third in the NBA in jersey sales through the second-half of the NBA season according to NBA.com. Ayesha has made a strong brand for herself as well as an entrepreneur. She’s authored a cookbook, has her own line of cookware and is a TV personality, hosting an HBO show with her husband, “About Last Night.”
Yet, their passion lies in their nonprofit organization, Eat. Learn. Play. — an Oakland, California-based organization that is focused on improving the lives of children and families around the country.
Curry family helps others through Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation
Whether it is the annual Christmas with the Currys or partnering with KABOOM!, a company created to build playgrounds in communities around the country, helping families is at the forefront of the Curry family’s mind.
“We’ve been so blessed that if we’re not giving back, then what’s it all for?” Ayesha said. “I think this will always be the No. 1 mission, I think I can speak for both Steph and I, too, before any of our careers.”
Now they are bringing their organization to Columbus. Workday, which is sponsoring the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, is not only continuing its support of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, but also the Currys’ Eat. Learn. Play. initiative as charitable beneficiaries.
“To bring a platform that we are so near and dear to out here — to come outside of our nest a little bit and bring the impact here to Columbus — has been really important to us,” Ayesha said, speaking to the Dispatch while at the Memorial Tournament on Wednesday.
“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is proud to continue to be a collaborating charitable partner of the Memorial Tournament, and we are grateful for the support of this event that helps us continue providing vital care to all children in our community and beyond,” Katelyn Scott, a Nationwide Children’s Hospital spokesperson, said by email. “The Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation has joined the Memorial Tournament this year as another collaborating charitable partner, alongside Nationwide Children’s.”
Founded in July 2019, Steph and Ayesha, have built Eat. Learn. Play. on the idea that every child and family should have the ability to eat, learn and play no matter where or how they grew up.
The parents of three kids, the Currys realized that there was more that needed to be done in their community, and around the world, to help people in need.
“Looking in our kids’ eyes and reading the statistics of what is going on in the community and thinking no parent wants to put their child in a negative position and no parent should have to experience that,” Ayesha said. “We said we are going to be the village for the people out there who need one, but don’t have one.”
Which Columbus nonprofits are being helped by Steph and Ayesha Curry?
As they’ve grown their nonprofit, the Currys have held firm to those founding ideals, and the partnerships around Columbus are driven by each of those.
Their “Eat” pillar, will include donating money to the Linden Fresh Market, one of the largest points of distribution of free food in central Ohio. The money donated will support expenses the organization needs including supplies and services provided.
As for the “Learn” pillar, the company will donate to SPARK, Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids, and ROR, Reach Out and Read. SPARK is a home-visiting model with a focus on kindergarten readiness for ages 3 and 4. ROR is a partnership with primary care nurse practitioners and doctors to utilize age-appropriate and culturally sensitive books during all child checks from six months to 5 years old. Literacy assessments and developmental screenings are included in the program.
In the “Play”, part of their mission, the company is working with Play Strong, a program that guides participants to create healthy habits at home. That program is expected to support 700 kids this year through diverse activities, which are focused to encourage better and sustainable habits.
“It’s such an honor for Eat. Learn. Play. to be a charitable beneficiary of the Memorial Tournament,” Chris Helfrich, CEO of Eat. Learn. Play, said by email. “While the Memorial celebrates the game of golf, it also does a tremendous job in supporting children and families in need. We’re excited to join forces with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to expand our programming focused on food security, literacy, and play equity to the Columbus area. This is just the beginning of our work, and we look forward to the journey ahead.”
For Ayesha, the timing was perfect to branch into Columbus, especially with Steph’s love for golf.
“Due to the Memorial, and (Eat. Learn. Play.) being one of the beneficiaries, it only made sense,” she said from the tournament on Wednesday.
Eat. Learn. Play. was founded with the idea of helping the people in Oakland and the Bay Area. That won’t change, Ayesha said.
“We are still very much focused on Oakland, until the need for what we set out to do is solved we have to stay there,” she said.
But the organization is expanding and Columbus is its second location, so far. The end goal is to help create policy change to better serve children in need through Congress and the White House.
“Actually seeing the change is what’s going to be expansion for us,” she said.
For now, though, the Curry family is setting out to help as many families as they can. Now, nearly three years after starting their nonprofit in Oakland and seeing the results, they have landed in Columbus, ready to help another part of the country.
“We are excited to bring that model, which is working in Oakland, to Columbus,” Ayesha said. “With great partners like the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Nicklaus family and Workday, it’s like why not?”