Firstrust Bank a Key Supporter of Philadelphia Youth Basketball as It Opens World-Class Facility in Nicetown


Philadelphia Youth Basketball
Images via Philadelphia Youth Basketball and Firstrust Bank.
Top left: Alan Horwitz and Kenny Holdsman.
Firstrust Bank logo

Kenny Holdsman, the co-founder and CEO of Philadelphia Youth Basketball, has fond memories of his first meeting with Richard Green, the Executive Chairman and Owner of Firstrust Bank, almost a decade ago.

It was the summer of 2015, and Holdsman, a lawyer who was taking his talents to the nonprofit sector, had just launched PYB, aiming to use basketball as a bridge to education, character development, and good citizenship.

“Richard listened intently as I shared my big idea: to build a program, organization, and center that leverages Philadelphia’s iconic game of basketball to transform the lives of our city’s kids for the next 100 years,” said Holdsman, a Cheltenham High School graduate.

Since then, PYB has benefited in a myriad of ways from Firstrust Bank’s support. The nonprofit is a client of the bank and a longtime recipient of its philanthropy, as well as a grantee of The Green Family Foundation, a charitable organization named after Richard Green’s parents that honors the three generations of Greens who’ve led the bank since its founding in 1934.

Now, Holdsman’s audacious plan has come to fruition, as PYB recently hosted an Opening Night Gala to unveil its new home, a $36 million, 100,000-square-foot facility located in the Nicetown section of North Philadelphia. Named the Alan Horwitz “Sixth Man” Center, the world-class facility will be a second home for thousands of young people and a critical resource for the community.

“This is way bigger than basketball; the Center will serve 6,000 kids a year and provide everything that young people need to thrive academically and intellectually, socially and emotionally, and civically and vocationally,” said Holdsman. “It has seven basketball courts, classrooms, a healthy café, physical therapy, a multimedia lab, a youth leadership suite, a civic dialogue arena, and a financial empowerment engine.”

The latter was funded with a substantial donation from The Green Family Foundation.

“It’s a workshopping space not just for financial education but career building, money management, and youth entrepreneurship,” said Holdsman. “There’ll be a lot of engagement from the staff at Firstrust Bank. We’ll have workshops on college savings, home mortgages, consumer loans, investing, building a micro enterprise and small business — all topics that Firstrust employees have significant experience with.”

After years of planning, Holdsman is excited to see the project reach the finish line.

“It’s exhilarating,” he said. “Building Philadelphia Youth Basketball, as a program and as an organization, has gone exactly according to plan, but building the Center has never been a straight line. We struck out on the first two properties we coveted, and it wasn’t until 2019 when we had a property that checked every box under agreement.”

The task of raising $36 million to build the Center was “a heavy lift,” and Holdsman was keenly aware that the youth PYB serves are accustomed to adults making promises they don’t keep.

“We put out a really big promise to the children and families of our city,” he said. “When our neck is out there, and we have the risk of overpromising and underdelivering, that risk motivated us every day. We were not going to be just another organization in a long list of them that talk big but don’t deliver.”

In June 2021, PYB closed on a $20 million deal through the New Markets Tax Credit, a federal program sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that incentivizes investment in low-income communities. One of the deal’s requirements was for PYB to have every dollar of the project’s total cost in hand.

“Many of the capital gifts and public-sector grants we received were to be paid out over multiple years, so Firstrust lent us the money we needed and helped us collateralize the loan because we were short on collateral,” said Holdsman. “I don’t know of any other bank that would have worked with us in such a fire-drill fashion to unlock our equity in such a highly complex transaction. Not many financial institutions would burn the brain cells and midnight oil to get that done. We’re grateful for Firstrust Bank going down that path with us.”

Learn more about how Firstrust Bank is helping people, businesses, and nonprofits like Philadelphia Youth Basketball achieve success in the very region it calls home.

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