In summer, 2017 the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training contracted with Lawrence grad Connor Weas to research this question: “Can basketball bridge and build Wisconsin youth?”

Connors’s work was much like a scouting project that looked for talent and examples to develop and apply the bridge and build concept. The goal was to find the ingredients for an approach that could be tested, shared, scaled up and was financially sustainable.

Connor and the team did the following in two months:

1. Met with more than 100 adults and youth to learn about existing programs and continuing needs that were relevant to bridging and building

2. Selected life skills, financial literacy and entrepreneurship to complement sports and basketball as components of the strategy

3. Enlisted Asset Builders as a partner in developing financial literacy and entrepreneurship

4. Enlisted Pro Squared as a partner in developing a role model approach via New Age Athletes

5. Enlisted pilot anchors The Cream Skills Basketball Association in Milwaukee and Mentoring Positives in Madison. Both support youth through sports, life skills and entrepreneurship

6. Researched the Fox Valley with the Milwaukee Bucks G League team in Oshkosh as a beta test area that involves schools, businesses and organizations

7. Engaged the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion in Milwaukee as a facilitating partner

8. Defined the value as youth becoming adults in terms of workforce and civic readiness

9. Developed the following project title: Youth for Wisconsin: 2030

10. Developed the following theme: Sports as a hook for greater things, starting with basketball