Nike Foundation gives $5 million for OPC athletic center

The Obama Presidential Center campus model view looking north, with the Program and Athletic Center in the lower-left corner. (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Staff writer

The Obama Foundation announced its fourth quarter contributor update on Jan. 15, showing that 11 additional donors gave more than $1 million in the last quarter of 2019. One of them was the Nike Foundation, which announced its $5 million contribution to the Obama Presidential Center’s public fitness facility in a separate release on Tuesday.

“In the coming years, there will be a new home court in Chicago,” said Nike Foundation President Jorge Casimiro in a statement, calling the OPC athletic facility “a community space, where many aspects will be free and open,” where “anyone will be able to jump into a dance class or join a pickup basketball game.”

The OPC Program and Athletic Center has long been included in the project’s plans. The Obama Foundation says the facility will provide year-round athletic activities and offer programming opportunities for partners such as the South Side YMCA, 6330 S. Stony Island Ave.; Hyde Park Academy, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave.; and the Chicago Park District, which maintains the Jackson Park fieldhouse at 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.

The current OPC plans call for the athletic facility to be housed in a rectangular building at the southeastern corner of the OPC’s 19.3-acre campus, at Stony Island Avenue and 62nd Street.

Casimiro praised the Obamas’ love of basketball, the White Sox and the “Let’s Move!” program in noting Nike’s support for community partnerships “is grounded in the knowledge that kids who move will move the world.

“And for those facing the steepest barriers, the benefits of play and sport have an especially powerful ripple effect,” he continued. “Research shows that active kids do better in every way. They’re healthier, happier and more successful — in the classroom, in their careers and in their communities. The difference isn’t potential — because regardless of their surroundings, all kids are born with potential. The difference is opportunity.”

The Obama Foundation listed nine new and upgraded donors from Chicago — including the former president and first lady, who were listed as having given more than $1 million.