OAKLAND, Calif. - Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry and his wife, celebrity chef and cookbook author Ayesha Curry, made a surprise appearance at East Oakland's Lockwood STEAM Academy elementary school Wednesday to celebrate the newly remodeled schoolyard provided by their organization, the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation.
Cofounded by the Currys, Eat. Learn. Play. seeks to uplift the nearly 35,000 students in the Oakland Unified School District by providing access to nutritious food, learning resources, and safe play spaces. Most recently, the couple announced their organization's commitment to raising and investing $50 million in resources for OUSD students by the 2026 school year.
Greeted by crowds of excited children, the Currys made their way through the new schoolyard, which features kid-designed playgrounds, multi-sport courts, mini soccer pitches, an outdoor classroom, enhanced community gardens and a mural.
Partners of the organization, such as the Oakland Literacy Coalition and Alameda County Community Food Bank, lined the sides of the schoolyard, providing the children with free food and books.
"Today, just seeing the kids' faces and their joy around being at school and feeling like they can thrive to their highest potential, that's what Eat. Learn. Play. is," Steph shared with reporters at the event.
The couple first launched the organization in 2019, hoping to use their platform to meet what they say was a tremendous need for a robust community investment in Oakland, which the Currys consider to be their "adopted home."
The couple moved to the city in 2009, spending the formative years of their adulthood there and receiving what they say has been a lot of love and support from the community.
"Eat. Learn. Play. is rooted in Oakland, services Oakland, and has from day one, and will continue to be a priority," Steph said.
For Ayesha, the organization is all about creating impactful partnerships that amplify the work of community organizations that excel in their efforts to uplift the community.
In order to provide nutritious meals to Oakland kids and families, they have partnered with Oakland restaurants through Community Kitchens, a local nonprofit fighting hunger, amongst other organizations.
Ayesha said that they learned early on in Eat. Learn. Play.'s journey that they would need to help facilitate existing connections.
"We quickly started to realize that we were dot-connectors in a sense," she said.
In the past four years, they have raised more than $47 million to serve Oakland children and their families, delivering more than 25 million meals, investing $6 million into literacy resources and support and revitalizing 12 school and community play spaces, the organization said.
Their newest effort-- which comes after a year of focused research and planning with their board of directors, community partners and leaders-- aims to invest $50 million into OUSD schools in the next three years.
To ensure these funds will be invested directly into the community, the Currys will continue to cover all of the organization's administrative and fundraising costs, the organization said.
These funds will be used to continue providing nutritional meals for students; distributing high-quality, culturally affirming books, expanding access to tutoring for students reading below grade level, and boosting free, high-quality sports programming.
The organization also plans to remodel 25 schoolyards across Oakland.
While CEO of the foundation, Chris Helfrich, admits their funding goal is a tall order, he says the figure was based both on its potential to play a transformational role in the community and on their past fundraising successes. "
We're putting this out there as an ambitious goal," said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Eat. Learn Play. "[We're] trying to get people's attention and trying to get people to care about supporting the next generation."