Life And Basketball

LAB’s unique curriculum starts with the sport of basketball as a transformative tool and platform to provide support and opportunities to underserved youth. With equal time spent on and off the court, our curriculum recognizes the importance of academics and social and emotional learning (SEL) and relies on a combination of basketball, mentoring, academic support and community engagement to increase competency in those areas.

LAB has a competitive application procedure and recruitment is done in partnership with schools. The goal is to recruit those boys and girls who would benefit most from the LAB’s curriculum, which is often fine-tuned in partnership with the respective school to ensure applicability and effectiveness for that setting.

LAB’s two pronged approach mainstreams SEL through our other core program pillars while at the same time provides for targeted exercises and lessons geared toward building the social and emotional competence of 6, 7 and 8th graders.


Core Curriculum Components


Children can learn SEL in many ways, including through the behavior of their basketball coaches, teachers, mentors, and fellow students. They can also learn SEL from specifically designed lessons and exercises. LAB educators explain the SEL concepts to program participants using media (text, pictures, video, and/or audio) specifically designed for their age group. Participants practice these concepts with skill practice, group discussion, individual writing, or partner work. LAB SEL strategies focus on four key elements represented by the acronym SAFE:  (1) Sequenced—connected and coordinated activities to foster skills development; (2)Active—active forms of learning to help students master new skills; (3) Focused—containing a component that emphasizes developing social and emotional skills; and (4) Explicit—targeting skills.
 What SEL Is
  • Recognizing emotions in oneself and others
  • Managing strong emotions
  • Having empathy for others
  • Controlling impulses
  • Communicating clearly and assertively
  • Maintaining cooperative relationships
  • Making responsible decisions
  • Solving problems effectively
  • ​​

Participants are taught the fundamentals of basketball from experienced coaches and players. Under the general guidance of Coach Devin Adams, focus is placed on skill development, fitness, character development, goal setting and teamwork. Skills and lessons learned are put into practice by playing competitive games with other LAB participating schools and partners. 


With a strong foundation in Math and Literacy, LAB educators work directly with participating school administrators to tailor the academic support to the needs of participating students. Our goal is to provide additional and/or complementary support where it is needed most.

In addition to pure academic support LAB regularly includes exposure to music and the arts in its programming. These are two areas that due to scare resources have regularly been defunded or omitted from Philadelphia middle schools. Sample programming includes LAB’s “Rites of Passage” course, focused on African drumming, cultural history, and character development, as well as African dance classes. One of the objectives of these courses is to give the children the opportunity to discover their passions outside of athletics and academics.


Research clearly shows that a clear understanding of educational goals and how to achieve them leads to better relationships between parents, educators and students and greater opportunities to succeed. LAB therefore strives at the outset to involve parents and community members in our programming. Parents and communities can create support systems that can have a major impact on access to opportunities and the overall success of students. LAB programming looks to engage parents and the community to maximize and nurture these support system that already exist.

In this increasingly global world it is also important for our students to understand that they are a part of a community. LAB regularly organizes events that recognize the support our kids receive from the community and gives back by volunteering our time to worthy community causes.