Opening Night Gala raises $1 million for under-resourced youth

August 29, 2016 11:58 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

The US Open got underway Monday, highlighted by a stacked schedule of matches around the grounds and an Opening Night Gala that was full of the glitz and glamor you’ve come to expect from New York City.

But more than celebrities, evening gowns and cocktails, the gala raised more than $1.1 million to help support the USTA Foundation’s mission to combine tennis and education to change lives of under-resourced youth.

Emmy Award winners Alec Baldwin and Debra Messing hosted the 16th annual event, which was emcee’d by broadcaster Bill Macatee.

For the second consecutive year, ESPN, the exclusive domestic broadcaster of the US Open, served as the presenting sponsor for the Opening Night Gala. This year, the network donated $150,000 to the USTA Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the USTA, in support of its mission.

The funds raised from the gala, up 46 percent from last year, support programs that leverage tennis, education and life skills to prepare under-resourced youth for college and beyond. Leading that charge is National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL), a national network of more than 500 community-based tennis and education programs serving more than 225,000 youth nationwide. NJTL was co-founded by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder in 1969.

“The USTA Foundation has been outstanding in fulfilling their mission to providing tennis and education opportunities to under-resourced youth around the nation,” said Baldwin, the chairman of the USTA Foundation’s celebrity council, which is hosting the Foundation’s marquee fundraising event for the second straight year.

“I am honored to help host their highly successful fundraising event once again. As the kick-off to one of the most spectacular sporting events, where champions shine, the USTA Foundation Opening Night Gala’s purpose is to impact under-resourced youth so they can thrive and become future champions, whether it be in the classroom, boardroom or center court.”

To date, the USTA Foundation has awarded more than $22 million, benefitting thousands of children through tennis, education and health programs and college scholarships. It has also impacted more than 200,000 military service members, veterans and their families through its outreach programs.

“I am honored to support the USTA Foundation and the hundreds of NJTL programs as co-host of the Opening Night Gala,” said Messing. “This is such a unique and exciting opportunity for me to be a part of an outstanding cause. I admire the Foundation’s dedication to positively changing the lives of young people and I am looking forward to a meaningful event.”

To learn more about the USTA Foundation and support its mission, visit



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