USTA Foundation receives over $250,000 from Chase in support of NJTLs

Chase Return the Serve Fun Day at the MWYF in 2019.
December 10, 2020 09:00 AM

For the seventh year running, the USTA Foundation has partnered with longtime US Open sponsor Chase to provide financial support to National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters through the Return the Serve program. Since 2014, this effort has supported year-round tennis and education programming through the A.C.E. (Academic Creative Engagement) curriculum, the Foundation’s signature academic initiative, and given these chapters the resources necessary to continue to serve student-athletes in their communities. 

This year's awardees represent 12 diverse NJTL chapters in 10 states, all of whom were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways. With fundraising initiatives and other events canceled or postponed throughout much of this year, the funding has helped these chapters develop or maintain programming in light of shutdowns and hiatuses that lasted several months.

The First Break Academy in Carson, Calif., for example, was able to retain its academic director on staff throughout the shutdown and through the summer, while the Houston Tennis Association in Texas was able to provide A.C.E. learning virtually for the first time thanks to the assistance. In Philadelphia, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education was also able to purchase masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer gels to reopen safely, while New York Junior Tennis and Learning invested in activity backpacks for all program participants filled with supplies to ensure no supplies were being shared, and to provide participants with the necessary tools to participate in virtual schooling. Tenacity, Inc., outside of Boston, was able to successfully hold its Summer Tennis and Reading Program in Boston and Worcester in line with state health guidelines.

"Without this funding, we would not have been able to do nearly as many activities nor provide nearly as much support for our youth," said Terri Florio, executive director of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation in Jacksonville, Fla. "The money has been spent on staffing, consumable supplies and extra supplies needed during COVID, including Zoom subscriptions, hand sanitizer and plexiglass partitions... We always seem to be 'running short' of computers and/or laptops and this additional technology grant allowed us to purchase additional laptops. We have purchased additional laptop computers for our teens to be used for homework and elective classes. Students are able to 'sign out' a laptop to work on their school work and also use laptops in their elective classes."

Annually, Return the Serve Fun Day events are some of the most popular among NJTL youth around the country, as they celebrate each chapter and their impact via a fun-filled day of tennis activities and camaraderie. With COVID-19 also canceling in-person plans for these celebrations, and US Open events also held in tandem with them, the spirit of the campaign nonetheless remained present amongst the chapters through what they were able to accomplish together in the face of unprecedented challenges. 

"The Chase Return the Serve initiative has has an impact in our mission in a number of ways. The financial gift helps us continue our mission and to have a greater impact as we assist those in our community to perpetuating a strong education & life skill foundation and develop their tennis profile," said Jeri Ingram, executive director and coach for the Metropolitan Tennis & Education Group in the Washington, D.C. area that managed to offer virtual mentoring, tutoring, A.C.E curriculum and college readiness programs thanks to the financial support this year.

"The Chase Return the Serve Fun Day has become a pillar event in the community. The youth, Parks & Recreation, attending organizations, volunteers and parents look to this event as a summer camp kick-off and standing fun day to introduce youth to tennis, nutrition, fitness, & education as well as to continue to engage youth already in programming."

Representatives of the Dallas Tennis Association added: "Chase Return the Serve has given us the opportunity to serve in many underserved communities creating a safe haven for their kiddos. It has allowed us to focus on teaching kids the real values of life. We are grateful for Chase's Return the Serve's extraordinary support in helping us to invest in the inner-city communities by providing us the resources and encouragement to provide kids in the inner city to overcome the challenges of this year. Chase Return the Serve's generosity helped built the foundation for our programs to thrive and positively impact the lives of our children and their communities every day."

The following NJTL chapters who received grants are as follows:

A's & Aces – New Orleans, LA
Dallas Tennis Association – Addison, TX
First Break Academy – Carson, CA
Houston Tennis Association – Houston, TX
Legacy Youth Tennis & Education – Philadelphia, PA
MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation – Jacksonville, FL
Metropolitan Tennis and Education Group – Upper Marlboro, MD
New York Junior Tennis & Learning – Woodside, NY
Portland Tennis & Education – Portland, OR
San Francisco Recreation & Parks – San Francisco, CA
Tenacity – Boston, MA
The ACE Project – Riverdale, IL

In total, $252,000 was given to these chapters in 2020, and in seven years, Chase has donated more than $1.5 million to the Return the Serve program overall. 

 

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