Books and Basketball was born from the simple idea that young, urban black men need role models that they can relate to, and connect with.
Byron Young, Taz Ahmed, and Arnaud Ndihokubwayo were actively involved in mentorhip programs in Minneapolis. They found that the students involved in the programs lacked access to mentors that looked like them. Often, the program directors would pull them aside and request for "more men of color that the students could relate to." Proper steps to address this need had to be taken.
In 2015, Byron and Taz came up with the concept of inviting young black men from the community to join them in basketball runs. They could build relationships and showcase positive men of color while playing the sport they love. From there, the two built a life lessons curriculum based on Hill Harper's book, Letters to a Young Brother.
Arnaud Ndihokubwayo enlisted the help of his brother Bertrand Ndihokubwayo to identify mentors for the program. They tapped into their network of black men who were leaders within organizations such as Target, General Mills, and UnitedHealth Group. Additionally, they visited various middle schools and high schools in search for mentees. In June 2015, Books and Basketball was launched.
In 2016, Books and Basketball was granted the opportunity to partner with Big Brother Big Sisters Twin Cities. This partnership proved to be mutually beneficial to both organizations and a perfect match. Provided with the infrastructure they needed, and additional young boys needing membership, Books and Basketball quickly grew.