The tiny hands of children caressed all the trinkets and technological gadgets outfitted inside the new Mavs Reading and Learning Center at Youth World on Monday afternoon.  The kids then jubilantly explored and surveyed the state-of-the-art STEAM area that is now home to coding robots, Lego build projects, art tutorial apps and books.

“It’s all new, it’s all new!” shouted one eager child, who was surrounded by fresh new paint and brand-new carpet in an atmosphere designed to inspire hope and propel youth to dream big.

The scene unfolded in front of a virtual dedication audience, including Dallas Mavericks veteran guard Seth Curry, Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall, Mavs Foundation and Youth World executives, plus members of the media.

A fifth grader named Keric loves to attend Youth World, but he admits that he didn’t expect a whole lot when he heard about the new reading center. Then he took a few steps inside and gazed at a mural splashed with a giant dunking basketball player wearing a headband, just like Curry. Three words are boldly painted across the front and set the tone for the new center: Read. Learn. Dream.

“I thought it was going to look the same as it used to,” Keric said. “But I love this room and how it’s all new and colorful.

“My favorite part is the wall. When I have a bad day, this is the place that I want to be. I’m excited to play with the robots and the new green screen.”

The unveiling of the new Mavs Reading and Learning Center is the 20th space dedicated by the Mavs Foundation and it’s designed to expand learning opportunities for reading and education programs, as well as provide computer labs and access to technology for youth.

“We want the children at Youth World to be excited with this new space,” Marshall enthusiastically said. “This project is really important to the Mavs Foundation and the Seth Curry Foundation and our amazing sponsors.”

Youth World was selected because the organization reaches children in South Dallas and aims to inspire hope and relieve financial needs to promote a stronger and healthier community.

“Youth World has an inspiring mission to provide hope and economic relief to children and their families in South Dallas,” said Katie Edwards, president of the Mavs Foundation. “We hope that this learning center gives them a fun and safe place to read, learn and dream.”

The Seth Curry Foundation aims to give all youth a chance to succeed, and the organization provides educational and technological resources to children and families through various programs and causes like Youth World and the new Mavs Reading and Learning Center.

Curry’s desire to reach the underserved is in his bloodline. His maternal grandmother was part of integration as a junior in high school and his mother grew up in a trailer home and became a first-generation college graduate.

Sonya Curry went on to become a high school principal and Seth admits that his mom’s influence has played a major role in his life. Seth believes that he’s been given a platform as a professional athlete to simply serve, reach and love others who are in need.

“My mom really drilled home that education is first and foremost in our family,” Curry said. “I always want to give back as much as I can to kids off the basketball court and pass on that same ‘education first’ mindset to others. Learning centers like this are important.”

The Seth Curry Foundation teamed up with ASUS to donate the technology. ASUS is a multi-national computer and electronics company that is known for leading PC design and innovation.

The laptops created by ASUS create new experiences for users by placing cutting-edge technology at the fingertips of the children that will use the devices at Youth World.

“These days you need the technology to learn at the right pace,” Curry said. “So being able to provide these laptops should be huge for these kids.”

Darla Shirley is the heart behind Youth World and Monday’s dedication was especially meaningful for her after she started the organization in 1998 in an empty room with no resources. However, she had a ton of faith, and 22 years later Youth World has grown into a non-profit that provides over 15,000 meals a year for area youth and also offers countless other educational resources.

The new Mavs Learning Center will serve up to 30 kids at a time focused on children ages 4-12.

Shirley said Youth World is like streetlights that illuminate the pathway for children in a dark time.

“We believe every child has a God-given place in this world,” Shirley said. “During COVID, we were giving a thousand kids a week grocery sacks.

“We also want to make sure that we are helping them reach for their potential and have leadership skills and character skills that help them keep their positions in this world.”

The Mavs Foundation said Monday’s official ribbon cutting was an accumulation of hard work and dedication by numerous companies and organizations. Lowe’s provided the bookshelves, Vari supplied the furniture, and the Pro Player’s Foundation partnered with the Mavs to create an inspirational atmosphere with new carpet, fresh paint, a Mavs wall mural, a new STEAM area and green screen wall.

Shirley said the Mavs Reading and Learning Center created a new atmosphere that will serve as a hub for South Dallas kids to learn to read and most importantly – dream.

“Thank you again for your generosity and all those involved,” Shirley added. “I’m just so grateful to you.”

Marshall said it was a no-brainer to help organizations like Youth World, and the Mavericks can’t wait to see all that unfolds inside of the new learning center.

“For the children out there, you will go places I’ve never been,” Marshall shared. “You will do things I’ve never done because of the resources that are being provided to you. This project is very important to the Mavs Foundation. Katie and her team and Seth and others worked so hard on this.

“We just want to encourage the children to do three things: to read, to learn and to dream. And not to just dream, but to have big, big dreams. We hope you enjoy this for years to come and we are just excited for these children.”

Story: Tamara Jolee, Dallas Mavericks | Photos: Monica Borja, Dallas Mavericks

MFFLs: Youth World Needs Your Help
The difficult time in our world means that so many kids are at home without access to adequate groceries, activities and support. Youth World’s drive through giveaways allow them to provide for children in south Dallas in the midst of crisis. Organizers say that your partnership will help them reach a goal of no child in our community left hungry and every child left impacted. To learn how you can donate, volunteer or be the bridge to crisis relief, email

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