Some online classes have already been subject to “Zoombombing,” but few USC students would complain about an unexpected visit from NBA star Stephen Curry.
Two weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors point guard surprised a Zoom class at the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy.
He was not really Zoombombing when he hopped online with the students taking “ACAD 174: Innovators Forum.” In fact, Bryant Barr — the president of Curry’s investment company SC30 Inc. — was already on the call. The students were pitching ideas to Barr that they thought would help SC30 and Curry’s foundation Eat.Learn.Play. channel funds to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miles Dorosin, a USC freshman at the academy, had been dwelling on the assignment days before. That weekend, he and other students had moved home. All classes were moving online in response to COVID-19 and state officials ordering residents to shelter in place.
That’s what we were trying to solve: How do you help these communities that aren’t receiving the help they need?
Dorosin, of Palo Alto, recalls wondering how he and his classmates could pivot on their assignment to help SC30 and Curry’s foundation. How could they convey that it’s important to stay home and maintain social distancing while remaining active?
Eat.Learn.Play. — co-founded by Curry and his wife, Ayesha — supports educational programs and physical activities while trying to ensure that children are fed. SC30 is an investment group that the Curry family set up to support the foundation and other initiatives. Although the two are separate organizations, Dorosin said, he and his team of classmates thought they could come together to help families get food and keep kids safe.
“That’s what we were trying to solve: How do you help these communities that aren’t receiving the help they need?” Dorosin said.
Steph Curry embraces ideas from USC students
The 29 students drafted their pitch. They produced a video to help convey family-focused messaging about social distancing while also promoting the foundation’s efforts to provide daily meals to needy students in Oakland.
Barr was bowled over by the idea and told the class that he was, at that moment, texting Curry about their ideas. Within minutes, Curry was joining the class on Zoom.
Professor Douglas Thomas said Curry’s Zoom visit was brief but well worth it.
Curry “just really enjoyed the enthusiasm behind the pitch. If he didn’t feel the passion we had, he wouldn’t have hopped on the call,” he said.
It might be that certain pitches are better done online.
“That was a good Zoombombing,” said Thomas, who is also a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “We have these great examples of things like this that you can only do online and cannot do in person. There are lessons from this, too. It might be that certain pitches are better done online.”
Thomas explained that Dorosin and his 28 classmates get a unique experience in the academy course: an opportunity to wow and engage executives and innovators at major companies and organizations by formally pitching them ideas that will help the companies or nonprofits solve a problem, add a product or service, or boost their brand.
Divvied into teams of five or six, the students go through a nerve-wracking practice of hearing honest critiques from industry leaders. But they’ve never had a visitor quite like Curry — a philanthropist and two-time MVP with three NBA championships.
“That’s the goal: to find those moments,” Thomas said.
The Curry family last month launched a campaign called “It Takes a Village: Help Feed America with Stephen and Ayesha Curry.” The donations will help needy families get food amid the coronavirus pandemic.