LOUISVILLE, Ky.-- Sports and studies collide, in a group service initiative that's rolling out to schools across Kentucky. 'Balling for a Cause' is a program that lets kids and teens shoot hoops for fun, and then takes that energy off the court to do community service. They've even canvassed neighborhoods and knocked on doors to persuade parents to pay more attention to how their kids are performing in school. It was the Louisville-based program, 'Balling for a Cause,' that's inspired Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis to start a Student Ambassador Initiative of his own, for service projects across the Commonwealth that inspire parents to become more involved in their child's education.

  • 'Balling for a Cause' is the Louisville program that keeps kids active in sports and playing basketball for fun, but takes that energy off the court to do community service projects.
  • Their canvassing neighborhoods to persuade parents in West Louisville to be more involved in their child's education caught the attention of the states' education commissioner. 
  • Commissioner Wayne Lewis is launching his own Student Ambassador Initiative to get projects that promote parent involvement going across the Commonwealth.

'Balling for a Cause' was founded by peace and justice advocate, Christopher 2X, and hip hop maven Master P. The program is supported by the nonprofit, the Peace Centered Alliance. 

"We're seeing kids really not gravitate towards learning," says Christopher 2X of what spurred him to his latest partnership with the Department of Education. He hopes parents will put their younger children into early learning centers, to build a foundation in learning that starts even before kindergarten. "Education saves lives. Bar none," he adds, "a better student becomes a better human being."

Balling for a Cause consists of 16 kids that shoot hoops on weekends and after school, and do community service projects in their spare time. Recently, the group prepared food and served it to the homeless in the area. There are parent volunteers, too.

"I want him to see in me that I am a positive person, and that I am hands on. So, I want him to do the same thing as me," mom Sophie Exum says. 

Some became involved, to encourage other parents to put more effort into emphasizing education at home. That's why recent efforts to hand out fliers door to door about early childhood education is important, to parent Sophia Gales. 

"I think a lot of parents don't really understand, they just leave it up to the teachers but most of it comes from home," says Gales.

In January, Dr. Lewis announced his partnership with the group. His Student Ambassador Initiative has kids in schools across the state pitching service project ideas to him, in video presentations, that promote education. The commissioner will choose a best five, and award those students in April.