ST. THOMAS & ST. CROIX, U.S.V.I. (Jan. 23, 2020) – Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc., founders Milt and Shalaun  Newton  will  donate  150  basketballs  to  be  distributed  among the U.S.  Virgin  Islands  public  schools  later  this  month.    Milt  is  also  a  native  of  St.  Thomas  and  Assistant  General Manager  of  the  NBA’s  Milwaukee  Bucks.   Emerald Gems has partnered with the Department of Education,  the Office of Senator Bobby Thomas and  the  Department of Sports, Park and Recreation to identify the schools, and host the donation events in St. Croix on  Wednesday, January 29th and St. Thomas on Thursday, January 30th.  

Additional  partners  in  funding  the  effort  include, former  NBA  basketball  player  and  artist  Desmond  Mason,  Lauren Gillian with Connor Sports Flooring and Ade Richards of A&R Transportation, while logistical assistance  is being provided by Delvin Duggins with the Office of Senator Thomas and Jenny Matthias with Ivanna Eudora  Kean High School. 

“Shalaun  and  I  are  extremely  excited  for  the  opportunity  to  serve  the  youth  of  the  Virgin  Islands,”  said Milt  Newton, co-founder of Emerald Gems Foundation,  Inc.  “It is our mission  to use our  foundation as a vehicle  to  provide  positive  learning  experiences  both  athletically  and  educationally  for  our  youth.  Our  intent  is  to  continually  seek  out,  engage  and  partner  with  other  like-minded  individuals  and  entities,  both  locally  and  nationwide, toward the advancement of our youth.” 

“We are grateful  for the many people involved in assisting us in  this project  to provide basketballs  for our VI  public schools and look forward to many other opportunities to give back to the territory,” Newton added. 

Senator  Athneil  “Bobby”  Thomas  stated  that as  a  former  collegiate  athlete,  he  is  extremely  honored  to  be  partnering with Emerald Gems and  the Department of Sports, Parks & Recreation on this basketball donation initiative. “As such,” said Senator Thomas, “I find it prudent to support projects like this, along with the recent  Milton  M.  Newton  Basketball  Tournament,  which  serves  to  shine  a  spotlight  on  youth  sporting  activities,  improve collaboration amongst the youth, and stimulate more interest in the game.” 

For the past five years, Emerald Gems has conducted Annual U.S.V.I. Youth Basketball Camps at Ivanna Eudora  Kean High School each August. Every  year,  nearly  100  campers ages  8-17 attend and are  trained  by  current  NBA  personnel. Campers  have  also  received  basketball  shoes,  jerseys,  shorts,  socks,  basketballs  and  backpacks. The annual basketball camp is provided free of charge to all who participate. 

Keeping students active, engaged and learning is  top priority  for  the VI Department of Education (VIDE) and  your  partnership  with  the  VIDE  helps  us  to  achieve  this  goal,”  said  Commissioner  Racquel  Berry-Benjamin,  Virgin Islands Department of Education. “On behalf of students and families of Virgin Islands Public Schools, we  thank you and the sponsors who collaborated to make this happen.” 

In the near future, Emerald Gems has plans to be instrumental in revitalizing selected U.S.V.I. recreational parks,  starting  with  the  Milton  M.  Newton  Recreational  Park,  and  launching  the  first  NBA  Math  Hoops  Program ( in  the  U.S.V.I. Emerald  Gems  will  also  offer  their  second  Education  &  Basketball  Enrichment  Program Trip  for  a  selected  group  of  U.S.V.I.  high  school  student  athletes  to  travel  to  Wisconsin to learn about running a NBA franchise.

“Having  worked  with  Milt  Newton  and  the  wonderful  people  of  the  Emerald Gems  organization  for  the  past  three years,  I have seen  firsthand  their commitment  to  the children of  the Virgin  Islands,” said Commissioner  Calvert White, Virgin  Islands Department of Sports, Park and Recreation.  “We are extremely excited  that  they  have again decided to give to our children, only confirming their unrelenting support of our community. I look  forward to continuing this partnership, as these are the types of collaborations that allow us to best serve our  people.” 


For St. Croix Public Schools: 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 
Time: 11:30 – 12pm
Location:  Educational Complex High School 

For St. Thomas Public Schools: 

Thursday, January 30, 2020 
Time: 9:00 – 9:30am 
Location:  Ivanna Eudora Kean High School 

About Emerald Gems Foundation, Inc 

Emerald  Gems  Foundation,  Inc.  is  a  501c3  non-profit,  founded  in 2015  by  St. Thomas,  U.S.V.I.  native  Milt  Newton, and  his wife Shalaun. Since its inception,  the  organization  has  served  nearly  450 U.S. Virgin  Islands  children through our Annual Youth Basketball Camps, Education and Basketball Enrichment Program, as well as  our Coaching Seminars. 

Our mission is to enhance the lives of the youth in the U.S. Virgin Islands by providing positive experiences and  life-long learning opportunities utilizing basketball as a means.