INDIANAPOLIS - The NBA All-Star 2021 Host Committee has officially launched its legacy initiative. Organizers say the effort will invest more than $1 million in youth-serving nonprofits throughout the state and identify 21 high school students, who will be named Rising Stars and serve as honorary chairs of the legacy project in their areas. The committee says the initiative will provide grants of up to $50,000 for 21 brick-and-mortar capital improvement projects focusing on health and wellness or education.

Rick Fuson, founding chairman of the All-Star Board of Directors and president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, announced the initiative at a news conference Tuesday. He says the goal is to create an impact that lasts well beyond the All-Star game.

"We just don't it to be about the game; We don't want it to be about the ball bouncing," said Fuson. "We want it to be about how the NBA can come to Indianapolis and come to Indiana and leave a lasting legacy all around our state. This won't be the first legacy program associated with an NBA All-Star, but it will certainly be the widest-spread."

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The committee says the funding could be used for projects such as indoor/outdoor basketball courts and playgrounds, or STEM labs and reading centers. Each project will have a Rising Star student associated with it. The Rising Stars will also have a corresponding scholarship program.

"We will create endless opportunities for our youth through these Legacy projects – whether they join a pick-up game for some neighborhood fun or they explore scientific theories in a STEM resource lab," Governor Eric Holcomb said in a news release. "When we take the opportunity to make events like All-Star celebration more than a game, we build a bench that prepares our students and our state for tomorrow."

Tamika Catchings, vice president of basketball operations for the Indiana Fever and co-chair of the NBA All-Star 2021 Host Committee Board, emphasized the initiative is statewide.

"Our biggest goal is to make sure that we get the word out and we get as many communities involved as we possibly can," said Catchings. "The biggest thing is we want nonprofits from all over the state. While we'll celebrate the game here in Indianapolis, our goal is to be able to reach all over the state. When you look at what we've been able to do with the Pacers organization and all of the people that are a part of our amazing committee, we want to make an impact on lives, not just for 2021, but for a long, long time."

Youth-serving nonprofits will have until December 31 to apply for the grants. The application process is being managed by the Indiana Sports Corp. through its Sports Exchange. You can learn more about the process by clicking here.

The grant recipients will be announced to the public following the 2020 NBA All-Star game in Chicago.