The NBA’s In-Season Tournament has cultivated interest in the early portion of the league’s schedule.

It also has been a windfall for local nonprofit organizations, thanks to a novel concept by the Dallas Mavericks to tie in the IST with a unique giving opportunity.

The Mavericks played four In-Season Tournament games and for each one, they had fans and supporters of various nonprofits vote for their favorite group to receive grants from the Mavs Foundation.

“When the NBA’s In-Season Tournament was first announced, we knew we wanted to add some sort of charitable component,” Mavs’ chief impact officer Katie Edwards said. “The Play It Forward campaign was a great way for not only the Dallas Mavericks to support local nonprofits, but also gives our fans a voice and a chance to join us in selecting the recipients.”

The Play It Forward campaign, presented by Axxess and Chime, added not only a charitable component, but also fan engagement. Fans voted for a “nonprofit of the game” as anybody 18 years or older could make their voice heard once per day on Every voter qualified for a chance to win a trip and tickets to the In-Season Tournament championship game Nov. 9 in Las Vegas.

The four winners for each In-Season Tournament game received a $25,000 grant from the Mavericks and Mavs Foundation.

The first winner, for the Nov. 3 game at Denver, was March ot the Polls, in advance of election day on Nov. 7.

March to the Polls, which was D Magazine’s small nonprofit of the year in 2022, believes that “Your Vote Is Your Power.”

The mission is to substantially increase electoral participation in underrepresented communities, primarily youth and people of color. MTTP has registered more than 50,000 voters since 2015 and 30,000 students since then. MTTP also champions the Latino Voter Empowerment Coalition.

And, March to the Polls is a wonderful example of how great connections can come out of difficult circumstances – in this case, the COVID-19 crisis.

“March to the Polls has had a great partnership with the Dallas Mavs Foundation over the years, and it started through one of our volunteers who wanted to organize a drive-through voter registration event when the pandemic began in 2020,” said Camila Bourdeau, executive director of MTTP. “From there, the Mavs have always given us pens, yard signs and general support as we serve students in school districts through our in-class voter education and registration efforts.”

Bordeau said that the $25,000 grant will provide more than anybody can imagine.

“It gives our nonprofit more credibility and community awareness – as well as much-needed funding for our on-campus student civic engagement clubs,” she said. “We have students in over 34 high schools who are working on voter participation initiatives and these funds will allow us to give them resources to encourage greater voter turnout among first-time voters.”

The second IST game against the Los Angeles Clippers featured Wounded Warrior Project as the nonprofit that won the award.

Wounded Warrior Project is celebrating its 20th anniversary of meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families and caregivers. It began as a small, grassroots effort providing simple care and comfort items to hospital bedsides of the first wounded service members returning home from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the WWP’s direct programs in mental health, career counseling, long-term rehabilitation and other critical areas improve the lives of millions of warriors and their families.

Their mission, simply, is to honor and empower wounded warriors by fostering the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in American history.

ABIDE Women’s Health Services was voted the winner for the third game against New Orleans.

Abide Women’s Health Services is a black-led nonprofit offering culturally-informed prenatal and postnatal care. It is an accredited easy-access clinic in South Dallas for pregnant women and through postpartum.

ABIDE provides an array of services including supportive pregnancy care with ultrasounds, ways to reduce the risk of early delivery, support groups with other pregnant women in your area and more.

Other services include childbirth education and breastfeeding support.

The fourth winner will be announced Tuesday at the Mavericks’ final IST game against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center.

“We are happy to see so many people participate – from all of the nonprofits calling on their supporters to vote to all the fans who have voted,” Edwards said. “We love that we can grant funds to the winning nonprofits, but also shine the spotlight on all of the nominated organizations and build awareness for them and what they do. With such a diverse group of nonprofits and mission areas, we hope to ignite the passion of our fans to seek out and support the causes they care about.

“And there were some tight races.”

X: @ESefko