In 1984, Willie “Hutch” Jones, a native of Buffalo, completed his Professional basketball career with the NBA Los Angeles Lakers and European Pro League. With a strong desire to be of service to his community, “Hutch” introduced opportunities for area youth of all racial backgrounds to experience positive influences and special training that would not usually be accessible to them.
With the help of two very close friends, LeRoi Johnson and Bernard Mitchell, they helped make his vision a reality and started the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Program. Entirely funded by “Hutch” at its inception, the program started with basketball clinics that were an immediate success because it was a tool that attracted youth, and courts were readily available in many neighborhoods.
Now in its 37th year, the program continues to grow with year-round afterschool and summer programming, eight sports clinics, an annual Science Fair, Essay contest, Boy and Girl scouts, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) curriculum, and now Virtual MCSTEAM Camps that any electronic device can access.
Our program delivers outcomes in delinquency prevention, academic improvement, overall behavior, and self-esteem. The target population is low-income youth ages 6-16. Participation rates are approximately 60% males, 40% females with an ethnic demographic of 45% African-American, 30% Hispanic, 15% Caucasian, 10% Asian, and a growing immigrant/refugee population. An estimated 86% of WHJESP youth attend public school, and most live-in zip codes 14215, 14212, 14218, 14208, and 14204.