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RICHMOND, Va. – All year long, VCU men's basketball Head Coach Shaka Smart focuses on trying to win championships with his student-athletes. Smart is once again trying to win a championship, but this one is a little different as he enters his second year in the ESPN/Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge.

For the second year in a row, Smart is teaming with FRIENDS Association of Richmond in the Coaches Charity challenge, which begins Monday, January 6, 2014 3:00 PM EST.  Participating coaches earn money for their chosen charity for each round they advance.  The overall winner gets $100,000 for their charity!

Coach Smart has selected FRIENDS Association for Children, a local non-profit agency, which has been serving children and families in the Richmond community for over 140 years. 

"Maya and I have visited the FRIENDS Centers and have seen firsthand the positive influence they have on the children", Smart said.  "We want to do all we can to help them prepare these children for success in school."

As the only Virginia coach and university in the competition, Coach Smart is representing the entire Commonwealth, which means everyone can show their Virginia pride and support the effort. 

"We are extremely grateful for the tremendous commitment that Shaka and Maya have made to FRIENDS Association for Children", said FRIENDS Executive Director, J. David Young.  "Their support has had a huge impact on our ability to help our children and families and reach the broader Central Virginia community."

To cast a vote for Coach Smart and FRIENDS, simply register at, (or sign on via Facebook), and click on the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge banner to vote.  Votes can be made daily throughout the contest. 

FRIENDS operates two multi-service child development centers in Richmond – the John C. Purnell, Jr. Child Development Center in Jackson Ward and the Robert L. Taylor Childcare Center in Church Hill.  The agency serves children from low-to-moderate income working families, and offers a broad array of services to help them gain critical literacy and developmental skills needed to succeed in school and in life.  These services also help children achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of their community and the world around them.  Learn more about FRIENDS by visiting