Chico Tarheels Family Scholarship Fund
The primary purpose of the Fund shall be to provide scholarship grants to underprivileged African American youth who are seniors in a high school located in Butte County.
On November 10, 2020, Marlon Gambol, Zach Whiting, and Brad Nielsen, in partnership with the North Valley Community Foundation proudly established the Chico Tarheels Family Scholarship Fund. Our Mission is to Level the Playing Field by providing underprivileged African American youth opportunities through education, experience, and mentorship to inspire future leaders.
Our nation has failed African Americans for hundreds of years – Black Lives Matter. We stand with and support justice, equity, and safety for all, including and especially the African American community. When we fail to create a community which upholds those rights, we have not lived up to our responsibilities and must find ways to do better. On the heels of heightened racism, oppression, and racial injustice in 2020, Marlon, Zach, and Brad decided to do something about it and get personally invested. It was of paramount importance we do something impactful, real, and sustainable; we believe the Mission of the Chico Tarheels Family Scholarship Fund accomplishes our collective goal to help provide African American youth in our communities a chance to succeed. With this chance we are hopeful the opportunities provided to our recipients will not only lay a foundation for their future success, but will also allow African American leaders to emerge in our communities and the workplace.
Marlon founded the Chico Tarheels Basketball Family in 1997, where Zach and Brad had the special opportunity to play on that very first team. Amongst the countless lifelong memories and friendships, this team taught us how to work hard, not to be afraid, how to compete (and win), and most importantly, provided the greatest sense of team – to be a family and to have each other’s back. We are applying these same core principles to this scholarship and want it to have the same special impact the Chico Tarheels had on us. This is not a ‘check-the-box and move-on’ endeavor – it must impactful and it must be lasting – and we need your help. We humbly ask you to join our team and support us on this journey to Level the Playing Field.
Marlon Gambol was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He relocated to Chico to attend Chico State and graduated with a degree in Social work in 1998. While at Chico state, he founded the Chico Tarheels Basketball Family.
Since 1997 he has had the opportunity to coach and mentor several outstanding young men and women, on and off the court. He takes pride is having lasting relationships with his former players, many which he considers family now. He spends much of his free time watching his former players compete at the collegiate and professional levels. Marlon works as a Medical Social Worker for a home health care agency. He resides in Chico with his daughter Aiiyana Jaylin Gambol.
Brad Nielsen was born and raised in Chico and proudly played for the Chico Tarheels AAU Organization (including the inaugural team in 1997) under coach, mentor, and friend, Marlon Gambol.
Brad graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in 2002 and went on to earn his B.A. in Economics from UC San Diego (2006) and M.B.A. (w/ Honors) from Saint Mary’s College (2015).
Brad has spent his career in healthcare consulting and technology, focused on running revenue integrity engagements for some of the nation’s top health systems and hospitals (including Enloe Medical Center) and has held numerous leadership positions at both his employer (Cloudmed), in the community (Big Brothers Big Sisters), and in his field (Healthcare Financial Management Association).
He lives in Sacramento with his wife, Meryl, and two children, Connor and Hannah.
Zach Whiting was born and raised in Chico, Calif., and played for the Chico Tarheels AAU organization under Coach/Director and best friend Marlon Gambol. A 2002 graduate of Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Whiting was a sectional MVP and all-league basketball player.
Whiting graduated from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2007. A communications major, Whiting was a standout point guard for the Division II Silverswords. As a senior earned second-team All-America honors. Whiting was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation's top point guard, and was also named the 2006-07 Pacific West Conference Player of the Year.
After graduating from Chaminade, Whiting went on to play professionally in Germany in the Bundesliga First Division for three years from 2007-10.
He currently resides in Henderson, NV with his wife, Ashley, and their son, ZJ.