The new Mavs Tech Center at For Oak Cliff is located at the former Moorland YMCA, a sprawling campus that sits atop 10 acres of land and boasts 20,000 square feet to serve people in the Oak Cliff superblock.
It’s the largest computer room designed by the Mavericks and Mavs Foundation in franchise history. Renovations to the room include new Vari furniture and computers with access to high-speed broadband internet.
Taylor Toynes with For Oak Cliff says the computer lab will serve people of all ages. It’s a dream come true for the organization’s co-founder and executive director, who moved to the new space nearly one year ago in April 2021.
“The representation of the Dallas Mavericks meant a lot to me growing up in this community,” Toynes said. “For the Mavericks to always come around and be very familiar is a true relationship. Relationships are the most important thing, and one-time events are cool. But to build a genuine relationship with a professional sports team is a huge encouragement.”
The new Mavs computer lab will be home to GED courses, summer camps, phlebotomy and workforce classes, and other activities. Most importantly, it’s a safe and secure space for children and students who will also learn and blossom there.
The Mavs also donated high-tech Oculus sets that will give residents and students a chance to virtually travel anywhere in the world.
One student we met is a senior at DeSoto High School and also works at For Oak Cliff. She put on the Oculus headset and virtually traveled to another country to view the scenery and people.
Technology is coming that will even allow the residents to virtually watch a Mavericks game from half court.
Toynes says he appreciates the long-time partnership between the Mavs and For Oak Cliff.
“To see that a professional team in your community cares really matters a lot,” said Toynes, who is a former teacher and grew up in Oak Cliff.
His grandparents owned the convenience store at the Glendale Shopping Center, where he later opened the doors of the original For Oak Cliff offices. Toynes co-founded the nonprofit with two friends to fight against systemic violence that often plagued his neighborhood.
Toynes said he loves and appreciates the new Mavs Tech Center, and the giant mural splashed across the wall creates a festive street art vibe that matches the energy of the superblock. The colors capture the For Oak Cliff brand with a touch of Mavs etched into the artwork.
Katie Edwards with the Dallas Mavericks and Mavs Foundation said the space was created with Oak Cliff families in mind. Area zip codes are even painted along the mural to create an inclusive environment that promotes unity and acceptance.
“At the Dallas Mavericks, we believe strongly in being much bigger than basketball,” Edwards said. “It’s more about who we are, and it’s part of our DNA to give back and support the community and take care of each other. That’s really what we do. It’s part of being a family, and we are so happy to provide this support.”
The event was notable for Edwards and the Mavericks in numerous ways. The opening of the new Mavs Tech Center at For Oak Cliff also honors the memory of David Herr, who served as the organization’s chief technology officer.
Herr was determined to bridge the digital divide in North Texas, and he spent his life dedicated to the mission.
After he unexpectedly passed away in April 2021, the Mavs Foundation created the David Herr Memorial Fund to keep his memory alive.
“I know David would be proud to see this new technology center and the access it provides to families,” said Edwards, who worked alongside Herr for several years with the Mavericks.
“David was so passionate about this issue, and it was important to us to honor his legacy and continue what he started to take steps towards bridging the digital divide and bringing high-speed internet to areas that didn’t have it.”
Wednesday night’s dedication also coincides with Black History Month, and the event was attended by former NBA veteran and assistant coach Morlon Wiley.
Wiley was drafted in the second round by the Mavericks back in 1988 and he played one season before joining the Orlando Magic on their first expansion team roster.
He later returned to the Mavs for a couple other seasons and then was part of the Dallas Mavericks’ player development staff from 2000-to 2004. Wiley was also an assistant coach with the Magic.
He shared many memories from the podium during the celebration and even joked about the importance of technology lessons for boomers in his age group.
For Oak Cliff volunteers and staff asked him lots of questions and seemed eager to glean wisdom from Wiley. He advised them to write out computer directions and then print them for older residents to learn computer skills.
“I would also make it a conversation when you’re teaching,” Wiley told staff and volunteers. “And give them a list of directions. Something they can see and feel and go step-by-step. That will be very important for people my age.”
He had plenty of other sound advice that left the room feeling hopeful and upbeat.
“I would even tell certain players during my career that it’s not just about basketball,” Wiley said.
“And you can’t bring everyone with you,” he shared. “My mother said you can pull them, but you have to get out there first, and then you can come back and get them. But you can’t pull everybody. So all you teachers and administrators here, just know that the kids are watching you. For people to tell me that I represented Long Beach and never got in trouble (was huge).”
The new technology center at For Oak Cliff is part of the Mavs Take ACTION! plan. The program hopes to expand broadband internet access and connectivity for underserved areas.
“For Oak Cliff are really the ones who spearheaded this event,” said Kamri Brown, who has worked with the Mavericks for nearly three years and oversaw the making of the new Mavs Technology Center at the nonprofit.
“They talked, and we listened,” she said. “We came in and saw the facility at the very beginning before they even opened their doors. We looked around, and they said, ‘this is what we need.’ So I think being able to provide those resources is the biggest thing. But it’s really being able to help them out where they have the most need.”
Chris Arnold, a longtime game night host and inclusion ambassador with the Mavericks, served as the master of ceremonies for the event.
The ribbon-cutting was followed by an open house joined by the Mavs ManiAACs.
The families also received take-home dinner provided by Smokey John’s, a black-owned home cooking restaurant that has served the heart of Dallas for over 40 years. Smokey John’s even took time to outfit each box with Black History Month stickers to celebrate the special month.
Toynes said this is a night he will never forget.
“The Mavericks have been important to this organization, all the way back to the first back-to-school festival,” Toynes said.
“They have always remained engaged with our work. I’m always extremely grateful to the Mavs. Thank you for all the opportunities that you’ve provided our community. It really means a lot.”
To watch local news stories on the opening of the new Mavs Tech Center, click the links below: