Since the inception of Up2Us Sports, AmeriCorps has been by our side, providing grants to support our Coach Across America (CAA) coaches nationally. These coaches, many of who are from the communities in which they serve, play pivotal roles in the lives of youth in and around some of America’s most underserved communities. They give up early mornings, late evenings, and weekends to build positive relationships with youth who need coaches and mentors most. In addition to AmeriCorps National support, starting in 2014, Up2Us Sports began receiving additional AmeriCorps State funding through the Serve Illinois Commission and Volunteer Louisiana. These funds go directly towards placing CAA coaches in Chicago and New Orleans, respectively. In just two short years, across both communities, the impact has been immeasurable.
Whether it is spending early Saturday mornings playing games and perfecting athletic skills in schools in South Side Chicago or providing a safe haven for teens on the West Side of the city, Serve Illinois CAA coaches are proof that AmeriCorps works. Over the past two years, 37 coaches have served over 6,800 youth in dozens of sports-based youth development organizations in Chicagoland. Every coach has seen positive changes in the sport, life, and character skill development of the youth they coach each day in programs such as soccer, squash, running, among many others.
Through the support of Volunteer Louisiana, we have been able to increase our capacity to impact youth living in under-resourced areas of New Orleans. To date, we have trained 40 community-based coaches to serve as high-quality mentors in schools and after-school programs. These coaches have engaged over 3,000 youth in the last two years in structured recess, physical education classes, and extracurricular activities like dance, soccer, and other team oriented sports.
These coaches prove that AmeriCorps works not only because of the positive effects they are having on the lives of youth, but also because they are gaining the necessary professional skills to continue working in the nonprofit sector. Many of the coaches serving will continue on with their current, or similar, organizations in full-time roles. Throughout its relationship with AmeriCorps National and State programs, Up2Us Sports has seen coaches move on to become program managers and directors who, in turn, supervise AmeriCorps coaches. Giving a year to serve the youth in these communities is equipping AmeriCorps coaches with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. All the while, they may also be ensuring that the next generation of young adults - who they are impacting now as children - are ready and willing to do the same.
Want to read more about the impact these coaches are making?
Click here to read about Coach E.J. in Chicago, a Serve Illinois-funded CAA coach.
Click here to read about Coach Noelia in Chicago, a Serve Illinois-funded CAA coach.
Click here to read about Coach Beth in New Orleans, a Volunteer Louisiana-funded CAA coach.