The Phoenix Suns Charities
The Phoenix Suns Charities and the Phoenix Suns Social Responsibility Department are committed to improving the quality of life for all in their community and inspiring philanthropic culture throughout the Phoenix region. The Suns accomplish this through community engagement that focuses on three pillars: Education, Sports & Recreation, and Healthcare.
Since its inception in 1988, Phoenix Suns Charities has been focused on making their community a better place through its mission of supporting children and family services throughout Arizona and has distributed more than $33 million to local nonprofits and organizations in need. The entire Suns organization has embedded itself locally by supporting community efforts through hundreds of player appearances and thousands of volunteer hours by Suns players and staff.
The Phoenix Suns Charities was the vision of the original Phoenix Suns Chairman and CEO, Jerry Colangelo. When Colangelo purchased the team in 1987, he began to assemble a board of community leaders to oversee the formation and operation of a charitable effort that would reflect the Suns’ mission to be a constant leader in improving the quality of life in the community.
Currently: The Suns Managing Partner, Robert Sarver, has extended the reach of the charity by involving more community stakeholders. These community stakeholders work in partnership with Phoenix Suns Charities to further leverage and steward the donations that come into the foundation.
Bridges Brightest Ballers: During the 2018-19 season, Rookie Mikal Bridges launched the Bridges Brightest Ballers programs. Each month he invited out a star student athlete and honored them at a game. He spent time with the student and their family before the game, awarded the student with a certificate at center court, and even game them each a custom jersey.
PHX Suns Scholarship: Phoenix Suns Charities, in partnership with the Helios Foundation, awarded a lucky student with a four-year full tuition scholarship to Northern Arizona University.
Central High School: The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Suns Charities are well into the seventh-year partnership with Central High School in a program called SunsCentral: The Hottest Place to Graduate!
Since the program began, teachers and peer students have emphasized tutoring and made it a major focus. Currently, 90% of the student population takes advantage of the tutoring offered. Through this program, the median ACT score of the students in the Kaplan ACT test prep program has risen 10% higher than the campus averages.
NBA Math Hoops: The Phoenix Suns hosted the NBA Math Hoops Phoenix Regional at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Kids from the local Boys and Girls Club experienced a fun day of sharpening their math skills with an NBA themed board game. All kids in attendance got prize packs, pizza, and T-shirts. Winners received an NBA Math Hoops trophy and Autographs.
Heart of Freedom Trip: The Phoenix Suns team up with Southwest Airlines every year to put on the Heart of Freedom contest for 7th grade students in the Maricopa County School District.
The ten winning artists/students will be selected based on their depictions of what “A Heart of Freedom” means to them and the content of their essays. The winning students take a trip, courtesy of Southwest Airline, to a historical part of the country and learn the role it played in establishing our free United States we know today.
Sports & Recreation
JR Suns: For more than 14 years, Jr. Suns and Jr. Mercury leagues have been providing kids with the opportunity to learn what it takes to win both on and off the court. These leagues emphasize fun while encouraging fundamental skill development, teamwork, sportsmanship, positive adult participation and community involvement. Suns Players hold clinics all year for the kids in this program, teaching them the basics of the game and what it takes to make it to the next level.
Spirit of Cotton Award: An annual recognition that honors legendary former Suns head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons by highlighting an outstanding Arizona high school basketball coach for their leadership, dedication, and service to the community in helping guide and mentor student-athletes. The winner receives a $10,000 grant for use in their school’s athletic program.
SunsFit Combine: 100 Suns fans, including the unified sports program at Kellis High School, got the opportunity to visit Talking Stick Resort Arena and go through the NBA combine drills. Hosted by Suns Alumni Steven Hunter and Oliver Miller, fans who participated got a SunsFit shirt, water bottle, SunsFit wristband, and tickets to the next Suns game.
Give and Go: Every year Suns players purchase tickets to be donated back to non-profits and schools. This allows families who generally cannot afford to come to a Suns game the opportunity to attend.
Hospital Visits: Suns players make regular appearances at many of the hospitals across the valley. They make a point to go out of their way to brighten up the spirits of all the patients they see. They sign autographs, take pictures, and even bring gifts to the patients they visit. Players also make sure that the hospital employees know that they’re appreciated by dropping off gifts for them as well.
SunsFit Cooking Videos: The Suns partnered with Fry’s Food stores to make “how-to” videos on how to cook three different healthy recipes.
SunsFit Day of Play: The Phoenix Suns partnered with Playworks to have a day filled with play with 300 students at a local elementary school. Starting off with a talk about mental and physical health, the Suns shared what fitness means to them and how players keep as fit as possible. There was then a performance from the Suns dance teams and a surprise appearance from the Gorilla. After, Suns employees, dancers, and the Gorilla led the students in an hour of game stations.
Playmakers: A Playmaker pledges $100,000 over a maximum of four years to Phoenix Suns Charities. For their generous support they receive a table and recognition at each Gala event during their pledge period and an option on many other VIP-style amenities. The Playmakers who have already committed are helping to guarantee the long-term future of Phoenix Suns Charities and the continuance of its good work throughout Arizona
Through a generous gift from the entire Phoenix Suns Ownership, all 17 of the partners are Playmakers.
Jump Ball: This signature fundraising event features top entertainment, live and silent auctions, dinner, dancing and all of the Suns Players, Coaches, Suns Executives, Playmakers, Sponsors, and other friends of Phoenix Suns Charities.
The Suns Golf Classic: This four-some tournament is an opportunity for Suns fans, former players and sponsors to come together for a fun day in the sun, while supporting the work of Phoenix Suns Charities.
This past year was the 29th consecutive year of the tournament.
Suns Charities 88: Presented by Billing Tree, this was created in 2012 to offer a platform for energized business professionals across the Phoenix Metroplex to network amongst their peers. This powerful group comprised of 88 professionals, work collectively to give back to our community through the philanthropic power of the Phoenix Suns Charities
The combined efforts of the Suns Charities 88’s members creates a forum for networking, personal development, philanthropic and fundraising opportunities that simultaneously creates a community minded, connected workforce across the Valley.
Suns Assist Employee Campaign: On April 3, 2016, Phoenix Suns Charities announced the Suns Assist Employee Campaign offering all employees the opportunity to donate to Phoenix Suns Charities through payroll deduction. Suns staff generously donates many talents and hours to the community. Employees have collectively contributed $100,000 a year since 2016.
Scoreboard Messages: Anytime fans request that a special message be displayed on the Center-hung scoreboard, $50/message is collected for a Suns game and $25/message for a Mercury game, all proceeds benefit the Phoenix Suns Charities.