This Former UM Basketball Player Is Changing Miami’s Non-Profit Game
What’s News With This Story:
–Brandon Okpalobi has made waves in Miami’s non-profit space with his organization Dibia Dream.
-The non-profit exposes at risk youth to unique opportunities in STEM fields and in sports.
–Okpalobi is a former University of Miami basketball player. He also runs a for profit youth sports training company.
–Okpalobi has big dreams for the organization and hopes to see it expand to more locations across South Florida and other parts of the world.
Giving is a trait that Brandon Okpalobi exercises every day.
This young CEO of a youth training program works with children frequently to unlock their potential through sports.
A former University of Miami basketball player, Okpalobi became an entrepreneur and nonprofit founder after his playing days ended.
And in many ways, Okpalobi has never been part of a more important team than he is now.
Okpalobi, 35, founded Dibia Athletic Development in 2011.
The company, which trains young people in various athletic skills operates in Miami, New Orleans and overseas in Bermuda and the Bahamas.
He also expects to expand the program to Latin American and Nigeria soon.
In 2014 he was able to expand the brand to Dibia Dream, a non-profit that helps underserved youth develop life skills.
Okpalobi said that he gives back to his community because of the example he saw from his father.
“In 2007 my father took me to Nigeria and built a community center for his village,” Okpalobi said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “I saw the impact from it and I realize I need to give back more because that is going to bring the change we want to see.”
Okpalobi grew up in New Orleans to a Nigerian immigrant family.
He was a standout high school basketball player and attended the University of Miami in the early 2000s.
He was a guard on UM’s basketball team from 2001 to 2005 when he went undrafted in the NBA Draft.
When playing in the NBA was no longer his goal, Okpalobi used basketball as a vehicle to pursue other ventures.
“Basketball is my everything,” Okpalobi said. “It brought me to Miami, it kept me in Miami, it allowed me to start my for profit and opened up doors I never had.”
Dibia Dream is Okpalobi’s nonprofit that he launched in 2014.
This venture exposes under-served children to activities like art enrichment, science education and athletic training so they can develop new skills.
It has quickly become established in Miami’s growing non-profit space.
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Through this program, Okpalobi has helped expose over 4,000 children to experiences they would have never otherwise experienced and has given out 600 scholarships for summer enrichment experiences.
One of the major features of Dibia Dream is STEM Saturdays.
On Saturdays during the school year, Dibia Dream allows students to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects.
Okpalobi designed the program to be a “safe haven” for at risk kids during the weekend.
In 2016 Okpalobi was a recipient of the BMe Community Award.
This is a $10,000 grant given to black men leaders in South Florida who are trying to better the community.
Okpalobi used his grant to expand the STEM and arts program at Dibia Dream.
“We want to give the kids as many options as possible,” Okpalobi said. “When kids have more exposure to these things they tend to look at different career opportunities.”
According to Okpalobi, Dibia means “master of knowledge/wisdom” in Igbo.
According to the Dibia website:
“The term refers to traditional healers, experts and doctors. The process of becoming a DIBIA involves years of training and many levels of initiation. DIBIA means TRAIN TO BE GREAT.”
In July 2017, Dibba Dream partnered with the Nyah Project to bring 10 students to South Africa.
The group worked with three schools on various projects and made an impact in the area according to Okpalobi.
Okpalobi has done a lot to serve the children and he plans to do even more in 2018.
Coming up in January, Diba Athletic Program is organizing the sports clinic for Zo’s Winter Groove, the event hosted by former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
He also plans to open two more facilities for Dibia Dream in North Miami and Liberty City.
Okpalobi’s latest act of giving was a toy drive he organized with Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School on December 20th.
The goal was to give toys to the less fortunate and homeless children at the school, but there was a problem.
How do you give toys to poor kids without embarrassing them in front of their classmates?
To keep the privacy of the children who were less fortunate, Okpalobi worked with 14 year old Ransom Everglades High School student Jack Fitzpatrick to provide a lunch from Jimmy Johns and a toy.
Fitzpatrick and his family raised $10,000 on GoFundMe for the kids at Eneida M. Hartner.
Last year, he raised $5,000 for the same cause.
Okpalobi is highly regarded at the school.
“It’s a blessing to have someone within the community to reach out and wants to be apart of the school,” Dr. Derick R. McKoy, the Principal of Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School told RISE NEWS. “He wants the best for children and he helps Eneida Hartner bring the world to the children.”
McKoy drove the point home further.
“You know the African Proverb, ‘it takes a village’?,” McKoy asked during an interview. “Well, I’m happy Brandon is in my village.”
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