For the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx, everything starts with the franchise’s “why”: Believe. Inspire. Unite. 

Relan sat down with Chris Wright, President for both professional basketball teams, and learned that for the Wolves and Lynx, the Twin Cities community comes first. The organizations’ FastBreak Foundation provides hands-on programs that leave a lasting impact on Minnesota youth, enabling kids to “make responsible decisions, contribute to their futures, and experience lifelong memories.” 

From their game-day events to community outreach programs, Wright left us in awe of the franchise’s passion and dedication to the Twin Cities community. “Everybody would say that we spread ourselves too thin, but we touch an amazing number of [people and] non-profits,” stated Wright. 

Here are the top 5 reasons why the Wolves and Lynx score at the top when it comes to supporting their fans and their community: 

 

1. Their Mission Drives Everything They Do

“We’re here to inspire not only our fans and key stakeholders, but our community as well,” said Wright. The organization is built from the ground up with this mindset and the “Believe. Inspire. Unite” mission drives everything from their hiring practices to player appearances and community events. “We’re a community asset and should be an integral part of what is going on in the community on a day-to-day basis, making it a better place to live.”

One thing we love about the Wolves and Lynx are how involved the players are in the community. Wright explained that while public appearances are often part of the players’ contracts, it is common to find players supporting and participating in certain events simply because the cause aligns with their own values.

 

2. They Are Advocates For The Environment  

Of course, we couldn’t go without mentioning that the Wolves and Lynx are big on sustainable business and community practices. The organizations dedicate the entire month of April - titled “Think Green” - to sustainability education. A few of their past events include:

  • Partnering with Metro Transit to provide drop-off points for people to recycle their old cell phones. The unsalvageable phones were properly recycled, while working phones were repaired and given to organizations in need of phones. The Wolves also worked with Metro Transit to provide free rides to Wolves home games

  • Coordinating a program with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to teach kids about their impact on the environment and how simple tasks like recycling can make a big difference.

  • Awarding grants to local schools who are supporting green initiatives. For example, the Nawayee school in Minneapolis took home $2,500 last year for their school garden, which was planted and maintained by the students.  
Nawayee Center School receiving a grant from the Timberwolves for their school garden
 

On top of their outreach efforts, the Wolves and Lynx also play under a 2.5 acre green roof that sits on top of the Target Center. Planted with plants you would find in a typical Minnesota prairie, the green roof helps keep the arena cool during the summer and also helps capture roughly 1 million gallons of stormwater every year. 

 
target-center-green-roof.jpg
 

3. Every Month, They Focus On A New Community Initiative

“October is ‘New Season, New Beginnings’, November is ‘Operation: Minnesota Heroes’, December is the season of giving, January is ‘Wolves Care’...” Wright named a theme for each month of the men’s basketball regular season. And with each new month, the arena is re-branded to support the respective month’s mission. The organization also awards at least two grants (sometimes up to $5,000) during games to local organizations whose work aligns with the month’s theme. 

The different initiatives are promoted both on and off the court, as each month incorporates a community event held outside of the Target Center. A notable event hosted by the foundation is a Thanksgiving dinner hosted each November for 200 local veterans. Veterans and their families come together at a local restaurant and are served by Wolves players as a way to say ‘thank you’ for their service.

 
Timberwolves players serve military veterans at the Give Thanks event in Minneapolis
 

4. Kids Are At The Heart Of The FastBreak Foundation’s Work  

Did we mention that kids are at the heart of the FastBreak Foundation’s work? For example, in December, the foundation selects 20 children who are up for adoption and takes them on a Christmas shopping spree. The kids create a wish list, are given $500, and then team up with a player to go Christmas shopping at Target. 

What if their wish list exceeds $500? “Our players write [personal] checks for the difference between what the kids should have spent and what they actually spent,” explained Wright. 

The foundation has also held backpack and school supply drives and is gearing up this October to give a local Montessori school a complete facelift. 

 
Kids attending a Minnesota Lynx basketball game
 

5. They Help Inspire And Empower Women

We couldn’t wrap up this list without highlighting the amazing work by the Lynx and WNBA with their Inspiring Women platform. Each year, the Lynx honor and share stories of women in Minnesota who “inspire, motivate, and encourage others through personal and professional leadership”. 

Know of any amazing women who are deserving of the award? Head on over to the Lynx's website and complete the nomination form!

 
The Minnesota Women's Basketball team received the Inspiring Women award in August 2015
 

Wright explained that as a franchise, their goal is to “ignite pack passion with memorable experiences by being entertaining, captivating, thrilling, inclusive, and tribal.” 

We certainly feel inspired after our conversation and can’t wait to get to a game at the Target Center!


A special thanks to Chris Wright and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx for a great interview! You can watch the Lynx take on the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference finals this week, and keep an eye out for the Wolves first preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 7. 

Images: 1) Flickr/MN National Guard 2, 4) MN Timberwolves 3) The Line Media 5) Flickr/Joe Bielawa 6) Minnesota Women's Basketball 

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