USTA Foundation continues to serve youth during unprecedented 2020

Victoria Chiesa | December 15, 2020

In an unprecedented year full of challenges, the USTA Foundation nonetheless managed to land on its feet.


With its flagship National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) programs impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USTA’s national philanthropic arm raised over $5 million for its “Rally to Rebuild” campaign in support of the more than 250 organizations across the country that make a difference in the lives of more than 160,000 under-resourced youth each year. Announced in June, members of the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors first committed to match $1,000,000 in pledges and donations during the campaign, which launched as a response to the three-month suspension of NJTL fundraising and programming that led to financial hardships for the network across the country.


As donations streamed throughout the summer from supporters coast-to-coase, US Open sponsors Mercedes-Benz USA, Emirates Airlines, American Express, Deloitte and JPMorgan Chase also contributed donations during the tournament, with over $200,000 endowed directly thanks to in-event activations by Mercedes-Benz and Emirates. The campaign also received $1 million donations from corporate partners Jersey Mike’s Subs and the Manitou Fund—NMH Silo. In addition, in-kind donations for NJTL youth were provided by US Open outfitter Ralph Lauren, in the form of 50,000 pieces of apparel, and Wilson, which donated over 350 racquet bags. 


“I am so proud to have led the USTA Foundation's “Rally to Rebuild” campaign to give every student the opportunity to stay connected, mentally and physically strong, and academically engaged,” said Evert, who appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and various other news programs throughout the campaign to raise awareness.


Maintaining its commitment to support the educational pursuits of student-athletes around the country, the USTA Foundation awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to college-bound seniors who participated in NJTL programming; partnered with Chase for the seventh year running, providing over $250,000 in grants to NJTL chapters that demonstrated substantial need; and joined with Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation, the Walt Disney Company, philanthropist Doug Kimmelman and the Karsh Family Foundation to commit $50 million to the upcoming construction of the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus, a Carson-based project that’s planned to revolutionize athletic and education opportunities for students in southern California. 


“This is something that the city hasn’t had before. I think this will be a great thing,” said Doris Obih, whose NJTL chapter, the 40 Love Foundation, is based out of nearby Inglewood and had its facilities showcased on Opening Night of the Open. “One thing I’ve realized with the kids in my community… they don’t go outside of L.A. Half of them haven’t even been to the beach. To have a program, or an academy, like the Kimmelman project in Carson… it will change the mindset of the kids and let them know that they are worthy and they can do whatever they put their minds to. 


“When they walk into that project, they’ll see so many different sports, a big educational building with world-class instructors… that’s going to be amazing. To change their mentality, to trigger them in a positive way [by] getting them out of their environment, and getting them to an elite program with elite staff, that’s just going to help them build their confidence and bridge that gap when it comes to opportunities that they normally don’t have.”


With the main goal for 2020 evolving as months wore on, the ways in which the NJTL network has a tangible effect on its student-athletes was also on full display this year. Ahead of the 2020 US Open, former ATP world No. 4 and two-time US Open quarterfinalist James Blake, a former chairperson of the USTA Foundation, moderated a panel discussion with seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe and six members of the USTA Foundation's Excellence Program which discussed current events in the U.S. 


Paying tribute to Arthur Ashe, who co-founded the NJTL network in 1969 alongside Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder with a goal of educating young people on and off the tennis court, the accomplished group explored opportunities for intersectional advocacy in the sport, Black Lives Matter and the role tennis can play in support of equity for all.


Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the USTA Foundation also ran several activations at collegiate and professional tennis events during the first two-and-a-half months of the year. In February, former world No. 1 Tracy Austin was the guest of honor for a donor event during Fed Cup weekend in Everett, Wash. in partnership with the USTA Pacific Northwest section, while at the Delray Beach Open, more than 40 donors and supporters were treated to a Q&A session with legendary coach Nick Bollettieri in support of the local Delray Beach Youth Tennis Foundation. In early March, five NJTL chapters from around the state of Florida were welcomed to all three College MatchDay events at the USTA National Campus in Orlando for on-court Net Generation demonstrations and as coin toss participants. 

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