Since 2007, BLBC has offered a literacy-based basketball program in select Toronto schools. Our goal is to facilitate literacy and life skills in young boys and girls using sport as the motivation.

Our program is unlike any other after school or homework club in the GTA. Our kids are supported by professional athletes and role models, giving them real-life insight on how much academics and character affect futures.


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    stories shared
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    book reports
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    student mentors engaged
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    Raptors game attendence
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  • Matthew coached in our Program. This was part of his application for Ivey School Of Business at University of Western. We sure hope Matthew gets accepted!!

    Applicant Name: Matthew Tam
    Position: Coach/Mentor
    Date From: 26/03/2015
    Date To: 23/05/2015
    Hours per Week: 5
    Responsibilities: For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed sports and, from a young age, I was exposed to a wide variety of them. As I reflect on my experience, I realize that I became most passionate about, and committed to, the sports for which I was inspired by coaches and role models. Their patience, encouragement, tough love and commitment, coupled with my determination, competitive spirit and desire to achieve, allowed me to excel, enjoy and feel fulfilled. It was my experience with coaches and mentors in sports that made me want to “pay it forward.” In my third year of high school I had the opportunity to do so.

    In grade eleven, after playing basketball for over ten years, I was honoured when my coach selected me as one of only two players to be a coach, mentor and role model at the DeMar DeRozan Slam Dunk Book Club. He said he chose me because of my leadership, teamwork, patience and willingness to listen. The Club was established for underprivileged children in senior kindergarten to grade six to improve literacy skills and to teach teamwork through basketball. Our mission was, “Read to play. Play to grow. Grow to win.” As a program leader I committed to mentor 25 children each Saturday for three months. My overarching goal throughout the program was to inspire confidence and excitement about reading and teamwork.

    On the first Saturday I realized I had some tough work ahead of me. Many of the children were uncooperative, distracted and unruly. Another challenge was creating a program that would appeal to five and twelve year olds that could be in the same group. With very little direction about how to structure and run the sessions, this allowed me to take initiative to help create a unique and meaningful program. Together with the other coaches, we developed a plan to leverage our varied skill sets, experience and leadership traits to design the weekly activities. I suggested empowering the older children by having them lead some activities and act as role models to the younger ones. This proved very successful for both the younger and older kids!

    We were thrilled to see the children make progress each week. The highlight for them was meeting DeMar DeRozan and hearing him speak about the importance of literacy and following your dreams.

    One highlight of my experience was working with, and making an impact on, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. With my support and encouragement, he moved from being introverted and lacking confidence, to feeling a sense of belonging as a contributor to the team. Another highlight was the feeling of personal accomplishment having overcome a variety of challenges, turning them into opportunities to help the children grow. It was very rewarding to pay forward what was provided to me in my early years by coaches and mentors and I know that there will be many more such opportunities in the future.

    From Coach Matthew Tam
  • “Your team was amazing in showing great work, dedication and support to the children. Devaughn had an amazing experience being a part of it. His reading has excelled and this was great encouragement. Thank you to Alfredo, Iqbal, Jarrell, Dennis and Taheem for a fun and enriching program. This was Devaughn’s first exposure to basketball and we will be back next year for sure. Please let Demar know that he is doing a great thing for the kids!”

  • “My boys love basketball, but getting them to read is a real challenge. Last year I signed them up for DeMar’s Slam Dunk Book Club and they loved it! The combination of basketball and books worked! It showed them reading is not so awful and hard work on and off court paid off!

    When I told them the program was coming back and I signed them up, they were thrilled, as was I!”

    Lesley Tavel
  • “I like the basketball and the reading. You get to play a lot. I even got to see the Toronto Raptors play against New York. The Raptors won 118 to 108. It was the best.”

    Lucas, 7
  • “It’s fun. I wanted to try something new that I hadn’t done before. It’s a big opportunity to meet new people and learn new drills. Dribbling is my best basketball skill, and I want to learn new reading skills.”

    Athanasia, 8
  • “When I grow up, I want to play basketball with the Toronto Raptors. I like DeMar’s Slam Dunk Book Club because I can improve my reading and basketball skills, like learning how to dribble the ball between my legs. My favourite book is Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.”

    Tristan, 9
  • “Playing basketball is the best part—I like to play basketball and read superhero and animal books. I like shooting drills the best. When I grow up I want to be a basketball player and play for the Toronto Raptors like DeMar DeRozan.”

    Jordan, 7



  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Menchies
  • Jump Start - Canadian Tire
  • Tamm + Kit
  • Paradise Comics
  • TDSB
  • Goodwin Sports Management
  • TMI
  • Centsible
  • York Alliance
  • Fast Signs