31 Days of Dreamers & Doers | Marquis Barnes




Meet Marquis Barnes, the Founder/CEO of The Keys Foundation. This foundation is a non-profit organization that uses basketball as a platform to change young ladies lives. The Foundation also runs a women’s basketball league and youth basketball camps, the camp being offered to both boys and girls. 




What set you on this path? 

Walking in the mandate that God has ordained for me. Back in 2016, I had breathing issues and went to the ER. Long story short, I was informed that I had two quarter size masses in my body. At that moment I knew it was a wake up call for me. At that point I had to pray and find out what my purpose was here on Earth. The Keys Foundation is what that was. I am placed on this earth to change lives. 

MB: Advertising and running my very first women’s league was terrifying. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. I read up on different basketball leagues in different states as well as used the experience I had with playing in a few women’s league in Omaha. I just took a huge leap of faith. 

Growing up I didn’t have a mentor nor was my mother able to afford for me to be apart of any basketball teams that were outside of the free basketball program you get through school. Now that I have the opportunity to give back to my community by providing free youth basketball camps it motivates me to more and more.

Seeing the smiles on kids faces that never played basketball who are starting to enjoy it, or, for me to hear a parent tell me that their kid hated basketball before coming to one of my camps and now is loving every minute of it warms my heart. I feel that it’s definitely confirmation that I’m doing what I’m suppose to be doing. 

What did your journey to where you are currently look like? 

10 years ago, I honestly wanted to be on the road to playing in the WNBA. My journey to where I am now was VERY BUMPY because I didn’t know what I truly put myself into. There were some high and low moments. There were times when things didn’t go right and I questioned myself on why I put myself in this in the first place. However I’m so glad I did. Obstacles in life are what made me stronger. I think I’m pretty good at what I do now so the road now is way smoother .

I do what I do to inspire people. They can't be inspired by an ego, a big-headed person. It doesn't work. It doesn't match. I really want to be that role model for people, for children. I want to be real!

I do what I do to inspire people. They can't be inspired by an ego, a big-headed person. It doesn't work. It doesn't match. I really want to be that role model for people, for children. I want to be real!


Can you name a highlight of your career?

On my first go around with my women’s league, I was able to secure 8 adult women’s teams. I had a teams/players from Lincoln, Bennington and even Fremont as well as a couple teams from the inner city of Omaha. 


My first go around in my youth camp was also an absolute highlight. I was blessed to have 32 kids on my first week with little, to no advertisement. 


MB: I am actually glad everything happened the way it did and I wouldn't change a thing. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I enjoy every minute of my life and the lives that are attached to me. I feel if I didn’t go through what I went through, there would be more younger “me's” - with no mentor and/or no guidance.

All that I’ve been through didn’t break me, it just made me 10xs more stronger.

Advice Alley

NEVER GIVE UP on your dreams. I know people hear other people say it ALL the time, but I’m now a living testament to it. I sat on The Keys Foundation for years before I actually started to do something about it. 


"When you aren’t scared of your dreams, your dreams aren't big enough." I was petrified, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’m so glad that I took that step towards my dream. This is only the beginning for me. There’s so much more that I have to offer and that I’m working on. I can’t wait! 



Being able to assist others through a passion of your own must be a gratifying way of life. Teaching certain skills at a young age helps carve a young persons mindset. Even if these children didn't grow up to be basketball stars, they are learning hard work, overcoming obstacles and being motivated. Marquis is contributing positive skills to these young boys and girls and that's something to be proud of. 


To check out more of what Marquis and The Keys Foundation is doing, check her out on Social Media by way of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information on The Foundation, you can also check out her website

Ashley KnoxComment