Cleveland Cavaliers Star Jarrett Allen Using Thanksgiving Period to Help STEM Students

Here's how.
By Savannah Moss
Photo: Jarrett Allen

Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen is making a huge impact off the court in recent times, with the player making contributions to STEM students amid the Thanksgiving season. 

Allen was the cause of some shock when he was first spotted by a group of 25 elementary school students as he made his way to what’s his sixth annual Meals and Math Thanksgiving event last week. It was the first time the center was able to host his event in person since 2019, due to COVID-19.

“We had to do Zoom calls during COVID and it’s not the same without the kids in person, seeing their faces and being able to say hi to them,” Allen remarked (per Andscape.com). “Today, they were screaming at the window before I came in. It brings me joy just to see how happy they are for something like this.”

Such charitable contributions are common among athletes but Allen’s is special as it delivers an immediate educational treat. This time around, third and fourth-grade pupils, picked from Orchard STEM School on Cleveland’s west side, were taught how to make a budget and shop. The kids were handed a calculator, a grocery list, and a $100 store card from the grocery outlet where the activity occurred. Volunteers shopped with the group and helped them with their calculations.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old is having a great season on the court for the Cavaliers, and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has tipped him to be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate every single year,” Bickerstaff said on the back of a win over the Washington Wizards earlier this month. “I think it’s time that we acknowledge that.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Bickerstaff said, “If you take that away, it’ll obviously have an impact on us. When he’s on the floor, we’re a different team.”

Allen snagged 11 defensive rebounds, while he forced an important turnover from Trae Young in the dying embers of a 114-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, also blocking John Collins’s attempt at a second-chance shot following a missed hook from Clint Capela.

When paired with Evan Mobley, Allen and Cleveland are pretty difficult to exploit in the paint.

“They’re hard to score on in the paint,” J.B. Bickerstaff noted. “(Evan Mobley) is an All-Defensive Team player himself.”

The Cavs are 9/1 to win the Eastern Conference this season, behind favorites, the Boston Celtics, plus the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets. They’re 22/1 to win it all at the moment, not least due to Allen’s play. And an Ohio promo code could turn out to be a treat for fans, who could sign up for early registration ahead of the state rolling out online gambling in January.

Allen has been donating to charity for as long as he’s been in the NBA. He started during his rookie year, back when he was with the Nets, and apparently has a soft spot for STEM.

“I’m always big on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math],” he explained. “I’m always big on teaching kids how to function for themselves and by helping them learn to budget. I know this could be a corny way to do it, but I do think it makes a difference in the future.”

The Cavaliers center revealed having learned to give to the less fortunate from his grandmother, who would participate in food drives and donate food even when she didn’t have much of it herself.

“She’d even do this when she didn’t even have a lot of food for herself,” Allen said. “She always taught us to help people less fortunate, and if you’re in position, you should always help. That always stuck with me.”

As for his love for the science, Allen has had a love for it ever since he was a kid himself, with his parents encouraging him and his older brother to pursue such education. His father, Leonard Allen Jr., was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks after playing center at San Diego State from 1981 to 1985 but did not make the team. He started a career at Dell after playing a stint overseas.

“I love robotics in terms of engineering,” the six-year center added. “When I was younger, I made my own robotic arm. I had to write the code for it and it worked. I was also able to build my own computer [in high school].”

The city of Cleveland will hope he can do them one better and bring the NBA title back, which is a possibility this season given the Cavs’ promising, young roster.