Stephen and Ayesha Curry make new commitment to boosting Oakland schools, children and families

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Each day since school began early last month, outgoing 10-year-old Ermias Afeworki asks someone on staff at Lockwood STEAM Academy when the school’s sparkling new play yard will finally be ready.

He skipped across campus a week or so back declaring, “This is going to be the best playground ever!”

Ermias can thank Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and his chef wife, Ayesha, for that.

The Currys’ Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation and its supporting partners are committing another $50 million to expand their investment in the Oakland Unified School District. As part of that, Lockwood is receiving a new outdoor area that includes separate play structures for kindergartners and older students, a pair of new basketball courts and mini soccer pitches and a nature exploration area featuring logs and stumps for climbing and jumping.

“I love it, because I can play with my friends every day here,” said Ermias, whose regular inquiries go to various teachers and principal Nehseem Ratchford.

Ermias' entire family could benefit. He lives across the street from school, is one of four children and has a younger brother at Lockwood, which had an enrollment of 658 as of late last week — about 65% Hispanic, more than 25% Black and a growing Arabic community as well. These are the children the Currys want to build up to chase big goals.

“I think it mostly stems from our parenthood," Ayesha Curry said. “When you have a child and then you start to hear about the disparities around you that other families and parents are facing and you start to realize that it's nobody's fault, it just is what it is.”

The Currys hope to build on the impact they made during the initial four years of their foundation work, which began in 2019 and later identified families in need during the pandemic and delivered more than 25 million meals.

"It’s kind of spring-boarded a lot of momentum around the ways that we can keep it going,” Stephen Curry said.

Lockwood also soon will debut a covered outdoor classroom. It is one of six Oakland schools and community areas receiving remodeled play spaces this year. Another $1 million is going to help grow middle school sports and provide greater opportunities for girls especially.

Aside from new playgrounds and athletics, the expanded movement aims to serve more than 6 million meals to Oakland students annually while enhancing cafeterias, provide all children reading below grade level with regular access to tutoring, and distribute 300,000 books through efforts such as restocking school libraries and hosting elementary school book fairs.

Eat.Learn.Play. hopes to refurbish 25 more play areas by the completion of the 2026 school year.

“You can dream big, obviously that’s why we started. There’s an idea of leveraging the blessings of the platform that we both have and have been given," Stephen Curry said. “And at that moment like, OK, Eat.Learn.Play. is again this specificity and clarity in how we want to amplify our impact and developing a strategy around that.”

Aneel Bhusri, cofounder and co-CEO of Workday and one of the Currys' primary partners, calls the couple “one in a generation.”

“First of all, people like Steph and Ayesha, a lot of times they wait until they’re retired to have an impact, and they’re doing it at the prime of their lives, at the peak of their impact,” Bhusri said. "It’s just rare."