PHILADELPHIA -- The owner of the Philadelphia 76ers has pledged a $3.5 million donation to Philadelphia's Police Athletic League -- the largest amount ever recorded by the nonprofit youth group.
The PAL supports disadvantaged youths by pairing them with police officers who volunteer to direct sports, educational and cultural programs.
Team owner Joshua Harris, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, is making the donation through a family foundation with which he's affiliated. He said Thursday he feels it is his obligation to find a way to give back.
"All of us who have done well in our lives, we have the responsibility to give back and to allow other people to do so. I myself grew up playing sports and it lifted me," he told WPVI-TV.
Eighteen PAL centers are located in some of the city's highest-crime and poorest neighborhoods. Children between 6 and 18 can participate in the programs for free. About 15,000 kids currently use PAL's programs.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said PAL helps lower crime.
The Sixers owner and co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC made billions investing in distressed properties. Harris' sizable donation exceeds the entire net revenue for the PAL in 2013, which was $2.2 million, according to tax documents. The grant will be disbursed over five years.