76ers owner gives Philly Police Athletic League $3.5 million boost

 Josh Harris, Wall Street investor and 76ers owner, talks about his reasons for donating $3.5 million to the Police Athletic League. (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Josh Harris, Wall Street investor and 76ers owner, talks about his reasons for donating $3.5 million to the Police Athletic League. (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

The owner of the Philadelphia 76ers is giving the Police Athletic League the largest gift in the organization’s history.

The nonprofit works with children in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods by providing mentorship through athletic programs with police officers.

Josh Harris, Wall Street investor and 76ers owner, said he’s been in a philanthropic mood. The Penn grad thought giving money to the Police Athletic League could meaningfully change the lives of some disadvantaged kids.

Many of the children the nonprofit works with come from households without much support, he said.

“Literally, I have five kids. Sometimes getting them out of the bed in the morning is hard. If you don’t have that family infrastructure, you don’t have mom and dad nagging you and asking about your grades, you’re not gonna care,” Harris said. “And I do think there’s a lot of opportunity to start with sports.”

Harris’ $3.5 million gift will be distributed over five years and aimed at expanding the number of kids the program reaches across its 18 locations.

“When I was looking at how to do that, Police Athletic League just jumped out because they were touching the most kids, and they already had a lot of success of literally bringing crime down in neighborhood in which they’re in,” he said

Mayor Michael Nutter called PAL a “bedrock institution” that helps mend the sometimes-tense relationship between young people and police.

PAL’s current annual budget is $6.3 million.

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