Knicks rookie Obi Toppin donation a slam dunk for York College

Obi Toppin slam dunk
Knicks forward Obi Toppin’s appearance in the NBA Slam Dunk contest resulted in an $80,0000 donation to York College. (Courtesy of the NBA)

High-flying Knicks rookie Obi Toppin has won over some new fans in Queens after his recent appearance in the NBA Slam Dunk contest resulted in an $80,000 donation to York College in Jamaica. The funds are in support of York as a primarily minority-serving institution and its affiliation with the Thurgood Marshall College fund.

The NBA informed the school that Toppin and the two other dunk participants were competing for their respective HBCU/predominantly Black institutions that provide higher education opportunities for its students. In representing New York and selecting York College as a beneficiary, Toppin, who finished second in the competition, earned $50,000 for York College, while AT&T also donated additional funding, bringing the total to $80,000. The funds are meant to support the college’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

“As a New York native and a New York Knick, it was a tremendous pride and honor to represent York College as part of this year’s AT&T Slam Dunk contest,” Toppin said. “I am grateful to have played a small part in York’s efforts to support students who have been most impacted by the pandemic and who continue to demonstrate what it means to be New York tough.”

York will add the donation to the One York Student Emergency Fund, established by Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes, president of York College, at the start of the pandemic-related shutdown. These funds will help students who have faced mounting challenges during the pandemic, including losing their jobs, many of them campus jobs; housing and food insecurity; and lack of access to health care in some cases.

“On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, I thank the NBA, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, AT&T and Obi Toppin for this much-needed donation,” Eanes said. “It will help ameliorate financial difficulties for our hardworking students, most of whom lost jobs due to the pandemic, and many of whose parents have also lost employment. These are hard times that require creative new ways of giving. We are grateful for this very meaningful support.”

The communities around York College have been hard-hit by COVID, racial disparities in healthcare, policing and much more. But by providing a high-quality college education in this location and serving as a mega vaccination site, York College is doing its best to level the playing field in the name of social justice. As of March 16, the site had already vaccinated more than 65,000 Queens residents in less than four weeks.

“I want to extend my gratitude to the NBA and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for selecting three predominantly Black-serving institutions, including CUNY’s York College, to support as part of this year’s NBA All-Star,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “I was thrilled to see the New York Knicks’ own Obi Toppin dunk his way to a generous $50,000 donation that will benefit York students whose lives have been upended by this ongoing pandemic, and am also thankful for the additional support from AT&T. These funds will make a difference for our resilient students.”

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund also expressed delight at York’s good fortune.

“We are excited that TMCF’s partnership with the NBA will support students at our member-school York College, which is located in New York City, to provide much needed COVID-19 student support,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF president and CEO. “COVID-19 hit New York hard, and these funds will help the York College community as it continues to address student needs in the wake of this pandemic.”