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NJTLs at the 2022 BCJ Cup in Asheville, NC

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#VBGIVESBACK

Benefitting the USTA Foundation

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Have you heard? We've just launched our new tennis capsule with L’Etoile Sport—learn more here—and are kicking off a series of in-store events benefitting the USTA Foundation, which brings tennis and education together to change lives. Starting today with our launch at VB Madison, 10% of sales at all Veronica Beard x L’Etoile Sport events will be donated to the nonprofit and its national network of grassroots organizations providing free or low-cost tennis and education programming to under-resourced youth. Learn more in our exclusive interviews below, with both USTA execs—including tennis pro, author and commentator Katrina Adams—and those in the community who are most impacted by its good works.

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JEFFREY J. HARRISON, SENIOR DIRECTOR, HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT AND PHILANTHROPIC PARTNERSHIPS:

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Tell us about the USTA Foundation…
Tennis has the potential to build life-changing social, academic, and career networks, giving children the best chance for individual growth and success. USTAF delivers its core programs through a national network of grassroots organizations called the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network founded by Arthur Ashe in 1969. NJTLs provide free or low-cost tennis and education programming to under-resourced youth in local communities. The NJTL network currently consists of nearly 300 locations nationwide, nearly 2,000 trained coaches, and 160,000 diverse youth participants from an average household income of $32,000. USTAF breaks down barriers to quality tennis and educational experiences for America's youth to have access to the many benefits of tennis no matter their race, gender, or income.

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What kind of support does it provide?
For more than 50 years, NJTL has impacted thousands of youth across the nation, and today the network features nearly 300 chapters. The USTAF supports these chapters by providing financial grants, scholarship opportunities, curricula, technical assistance, and training. USTAF raises money and public awareness through private donations, corporate sponsorships, foundations, and fundraisers, including the US Open Opening Night Gala, the US Open Paver program, and various Pro-Ams, to name just a few. To date, the USTA Foundation has awarded approximately $56 million in grants and scholarships. Our current campaign, "Rally for the Future" began in 2021, and aims to raise $20 million over three years. In 2021, the “Rally for the Future” campaign raised over $10 million towards this goal.

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Why is this an important cause?
The students in our programs face many barriers that can impede their future success. Inequitable educational opportunities, limited parental interaction within households where both parents work multiple jobs, high-crime environments, and a lack of positive role models and peer groups contribute to youth's adverse life outcomes. Specifically, these factors contribute to risky behaviors that result from low academic and health motivation and achievement. National Junior Tennis & Learning helps combat these factors by providing educational and tennis opportunities to participants. Studies show that youth who play tennis:
• Get better grades – 48 percent have an "A" average
• Have college aspirations – 81 percent say they will attend college
• Are better behaved – 73 percent have never been sent to the principal's office
• Are more well-rounded – 82 percent volunteer in their communities
• Tennis participants have some of the lowest rates of binge drinking, marijuana use, and cigarette use.
• Tennis has equitable gender representation; 48% of youth players are male, and 52% are female.

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What is the impact it has made through the years?
To date, the USTA Foundation has awarded approximately $56 million in grants and scholarships. Nationally, nearly half of the youth served were Black/African American (44%), followed by Hispanic/Latinx youth (23%) and White youth (20%). Plus, in 2020, tennis saw a resurgence with a 22% increase in participation in the U.S. as more than 21.6 million people hit the courts. The boon for the industry has also led to a rise in families turning to NJTL chapters for after-school programs that focus on academic enrichment, a life-skills curriculum, and tennis. That year, NJTL chapters provided over 219,000 hours of tennis programming and 75,000 hours of educational services to more than 160,000 youth across 43 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.

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Youth Action Program NJTL, Chicago, 1976

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KATRINA ADAMS, TENNIS PRO AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE USTA: 

I became involved with the USTA Foundation in 2006, when I was a USTA Board member. I grew up in a NJTL program in Chicago and because I was new Executive Director of a NJTL chapter, I wanted to learn more about the foundation and was appointed to their board by the USTA President.

After becoming involved, I instantly knew that this foundation was having a huge impact on youth, all over the country. By the foundation focusing on tennis programs, who had education components, they inspired many programs to add education to their programs and there was instant success throughout the country.

The evolution of the foundation has been tremendous. It changed its focus from supporting multiple groups to having a singular focus on the NJTL chapters, providing more funding, human resources, and technical support in order to serve up dream and change lives on a daily basis.

Katrina Adams a USTA Semi-Annual Meeting

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I was proud to be the USTA Chairman, President and CEO during the massive overhaul of the vision of the foundation to make it more respectable and professional in how it operates. There have been dozens and dozens of board members from its inception in 1999, who should be proud of their commitment, time and input in assisting in the growth and strength of the USTA Foundation.

I have seen firsthand, through the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, the success stories of youth have been in programs, who are funded by the USTA Foundation. These youth have developed into amazing young people, who either became very good tennis players, earning college scholarships for tennis, or graduated high school with honors, earning academic scholarships or both. The power of togetherness and success is driven by the mission and vision of the USTA Foundation to help make dreams come true.

Adams in action

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The 2018 NJTL Excellence Teams Cup at the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland

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ADDISON STAPLES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT ACES IN MOTION IN GAINESVILLE, FL:

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When the pandemic hit we immediately knew we still needed to provide our services to our students and families, so we met as a team and shifted our work. We have 55 students in our program that are in middle and high school and as soon as their school went online we figured we needed to take our after-school program virtually as well so we launched Aim Virtual. With the help of all of our staff, we devised a comprehensive after-school program, which mirrored the exact same format as the one we had before but everything online. We still offered 1:1 tutoring, we still offered socialization, games, exercise, mental health counseling so we had a mental health counselor on staff that would meet with students to talk about their struggles and challenges with the pandemic, we had cooking lessons, guest speakers, and much more that was all offered five days a week. That was our major shift initially because we were all on quarantine and when they opened things up here we did run a summer camp all outside under tents with fans and social distancing, with tennis, tutoring, and social justice initiatives which were very important and timely for our students and community.

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Over 90% of our students are 150% below the poverty level which meant that when the pandemic hit, some students were forced to help out their families with work, rent, and food. The other thing we did since a lot of people were in fear of paying their electric bills, rent, and food, we partnered with other organizations to deliver food to families, we paid for internet on an as-needed basis, we handed out laptops to the students in our program and we paid for internet for those who couldn’t pay for it. Thanks to the help we got from other organizations, including the USTA Foundation, we were able to help our kids and families on an as-needed basis with all of these essentials.

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College Match Day, 2020

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DAVE HIGAKI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT EAST PALO ALTO TENNIS & TUTORING (EPPAT) IN PALO ALTO, CA:

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We were able to partner with our local school district, Ravenswood City School District, and offer in-person learning hubs for many of the students in the school district. The learning hubs were a crucial piece because they facilitated distance learning for those families with moms and dads that didn’t have internet access or like many of the parents in our program were essential workers working in grocery stores or other jobs that they were able to keep by having their kids in our learning hubs. In addition to academic support, EPPAT was able to address food insecurities through our hubs, and with our partnership with the school district, we provided breakfast, lunch and supper for all of the kids in our hub. We went from a traditional after-school program to now supporting our school districts and students, families and our community in a very robust way. Let’s be perfectly honest, those families that have more means were hiring nannies, teachers and other people to facilitate their students’ distance learning… But the traditional NJTL family was not able to access those types of resources so that’s why EPATT played a greater role.

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Event Listing

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NEW YORK — AMERICANA MANHASSET
Veronica Beard | 2110G Northern Boulevard
June 2, 11AM - 1PM

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MIAMI
Veronica Beard | 4048 NE 1st Avenue
June 3, 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM

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LONDON
Veronica Beard | 27 Bruton Street
June 20, 5 PM - 7 PM

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LOS ANGELES — PALISADES VILLAGE
Veronica Beard | 1062 N. Swarthmore Ave.
June 23, 5 PM - 7 PM

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