Maurice Lucas Foundation adapts, opens Academic Hub to meet student needs during COVID-19

Maurice Lucas Foundation resumes in-person instruction and support

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Maurice Lucas Foundation has implemented an in-person solution to assist the middle school and high school students in its free program. On Sept. 28 we opened the Academic Hub, a place where our Foundation students can receive in-person, socially-distanced academic and individual support. 

“We developed the hub in response to parents’ concerns,” said Executive Director David Lucas. “Their worries for their children run the gamut, from the need for extra academic support and motivation to stay on course, to the desire for safe social engagement with peers and a place students can work without distractions.” 

Educators have also expressed concerns that some students could easily fall behind or disengage without significant support, Lucas added.

The Academic Hub provides live class support from 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., four days a week to Foundation students. The youths sign up in advance for the time they want to attend, based on the support they need. Students benefit from technology support, peer-group study sessions, quiet workspaces and access to tutors.

With Portland Public School sites being closed to outside organizations, the foundation had to find a public space to operate the hub. Through the generous gift from a donor, it was able to establish the hub at the Billy Webb Elks Lodge in N. Portland. The lodge has a rich history within the Black community dating back to 1926. 

The foundation staff not only help the students with their studies, they also help them adjust to the changes in their world. Students work through lessons on resiliency and perseverance, focusing on the coping skills necessary to maintain mental and emotional health, said Program Director Sheila Zachry.

“For some of our students who already face challenges in school, distance learning is having a detrimental impact on their progress,” said Zachry. “It was vital that we acknowledge that, adapt, and address those needs by opening the hub where we can provide in-person support.” 

Establishing the Academic Hub required a lot of thought and planning. With a strict adherence to the health and safety precautions handed down from the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority, students receive daily health screenings prior to entering the study area. While onsite, they are required to wear masks, wash hands and maintain six feet of distance from others. 

“The Academic Hub has helped me get my grades up, focus during class, and take advantage of more opportunities to be successful during online learning.”
— Micah Willis, 8th grader at Harriet Tubman Middle School

The Maurice Lucas Foundation Academy program provides services to middle school and high school students within the Portland area. Families can apply to enter the program in 6th Grade at Harriet Tubman and Parkrose middle schools. Spots are currently available in the program at both schools. Those interested can contact Zachry for more information at (503) 310-7604 or

About the Maurice Lucas Foundation

The Foundation is named in honor of the late Maurice Lucas (1952-2010), the leading scorer on the 1977 NBA champion Trail Blazers team. Besides his outstanding achievements on the court, Lucas also selflessly gave his time and energy to Portland youth. Since its formation in 2010, the Maurice Lucas Foundation has served thousands of students and families through its Academy program, basketball camps and teams.

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