ex-basketball star mean
business in area neighborhood
the not so distant past, Kevin Johnson was best known for his exploits
on the basketball court as a member of the National Basketball Association's
Phoenix Suns. Now he's teaming up with the CSUS College of Business
Administration to restore the luster to one of Sacramento's original
After a 10-year all-star career that featured 96 NBA playoff appearances,
Johnson returned to his roots in Sacramento's Oak Park where he
launched an ambitious program to revitalize the area and improve
educational opportunities for its children.
He founded the St. Hope Academy, an after-school program for "at-risk"
children. He is also working to establish a charter school in the
neighborhood and has helped spark renovations of the area's historic
houses and buildings.
Now Johnson is working with the College of Business Administration
to launch businesses in Oak Park.
"St. Hope has a great need for assistance with marketing strategies,
business plans and all other aspects typically associated with creating
and operating a start-up business," Johnson says. "In
a nutshell, CSUS students have the opportunity to participate in
'real-life' experiences by assisting the various St. Hope nonprofit
groups on a practical, business level."
Since early February, Johnson says, students from the College of
Business Administration have been working on projects related to
St. Hope's 40 Acres Art Gallery and Cultural Center. The mixed-use
complex, which is scheduled to open in late fall or early winter,
will include the newly refurbished Guild Theater, Miss Carol's Books,
a Starbucks franchise, a barbershop, a restaurant and the Upper
"The students get to participate in helping to shape the nonprofits
from a marketing, operating and technical standpoint and St. Hope
benefits from the resources the university and its students provide,"
The partnership between St. Hope and the College of Business Administration
features students from three different departments. For example:
information science students, under the direction professor Sylnovie
Merchant, worked closely with St. Hope management to plan the
design and implementation of websites for the 40 Acres Art Gallery
and Cultural Center, as well as some of the individual businesses
operating from the site.
students, under the direction of professor Dennis Tootelian, helped
research and analyze the best approaches for creating a marketing
plan for the 40 Acres complex. As part of this effort, the students
developed marketing plans for some of the retail establishments
at the complex.
students, under the direction of professor Jack Merchant, helped
research and develop a business plan for the St. Hope Development
Company, the nonprofit entity responsible for developing and managing
the 40 Acres complex.
a practical application of what they're learning in the classroom,"
says Patience Crowder, business development manager for St. Hope.
She notes that some students even stayed on as volunteers once the
Opportunities for future collaborations are virtually unlimited, she
says. "We're a community development company, so we'll be doing
many more projects in Oak Park."
That suits Johnson. "I am very pleased with the work-product
that the students produced and appreciate the cooperation that St.
Hope has received from faculty members. I look forward to beginning
new projects in the fall," Johnson says.
"I am very excited about our students' involvement in this community
project with St. Hope," says College of Business Administration
Dean Felicenne Ramey. "I know that it will benefit our students
and St. Hope-a win for all of us."
Johnson's early contact with the University was through Eric Gravenberg,
student affairs associate vice president at CSUS, who serves on the
St. Hope Academy board. The two talked about creating a lasting, solid
partnership with the University. Johnson then met with CSUS President
Donald R. Gerth and Ramey, and the partnership with the College of
Business Administration was born.
In addition, St. Hope also has agreements with the CSUS College of
Education to develop curriculum for a charter school and with the
University's outreach services to encourage children and parents to
think about college.
"I am a firm believer that forming partnerships with well-run
organizations that have hard-working individuals is needed to accomplish
great things," Johnson says. "This is especially true in
the nonprofit sector where resources are often at a premium. St. Hope
is all about community building and educating, training and empowering
"What better partner could there be than a local university that
continually demonstrates a commitment to its community? A partnership
with CSUS provides us with access to great resources and immediately
legitimizes our efforts in the eyes of countless foundations and organizations."
Johnson has made an impression on his associates at the University
as well. At the University's Spring 2002 commencement, President Gerth
presented Johnson with the President's Award, which is given for outstanding
service to the University, to higher education or to the public and
common good. Johnson also received the Africa Peace Education Award
from the CSUS Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution in