Almost 19 years after SquashBusters was founded in Boston, urban squash continues to grow stronger. Over 1,400 urban youth are now enrolled in 15 programs across the country, the most recent additions being in Oakland, Cleveland, and Newark. Together, NUSEA programs employ over 100 staff and have operating budgets that total more than $7 million. Five programs have built or renovated their own squash facilities, and San Diego and Chicago will soon break ground on multimillion dollar youth centers.
The power of urban squash lies in the individual relationships that are formed over many years – between coaches and players, tutors and students, mentors and mentees – and a program culture that promotes hard work and academic achievement. Over 95% of the students who stay in our programs go to college, as 140 now do at Bates, Dartmouth, Harvard, Northwestern, Penn, Trinity, UC Berkeley, and other schools.
In 2013 NUSEA organized and funded 10 national tournaments and training squads that brought 500 students to the campuses of Harvard, Kenyon, Northeastern, Williams, Yale, and Deerfield Academy. NUSEA partnered with Phillips Exeter Academy, sending 10 of our most accomplished students to its 5-week summer school. We continued to collect data from our member programs and facilitate the sharing of information between organizations.
In addition to organizing a two-day conference that brought 70 urban squash staff to Philadelphia in October, NUSEA launched a peer-led member program review process that included site visits and data analysis and will conclude with a series of recommendations in early 2014. With these and other initiatives, our goal has been to support member programs and help them become stronger organizations.
NUSEA also invested time and resources in creating new urban squash programs. We worked with groups in Hartford and Cincinnati, helping them form facility and school partnerships, recruit board members, and secure funding. Hartford and Cincinnati will launch in the fall.
We engaged with several other cities as well, including Pittsburgh, and plan to launch our first international start-up late next year in Cartagena, Colombia. Partly due to the success of our model, similar programs now operate in Johannesburg, Toronto, and Chandigarh, India.
We plan to partner with those organizations and support them in much the same way we do current member programs.
In a little over a year, during the weekend of January 17, 2015, NUSEA will bring together the whole urban squash community – students, alumni, staff, supporters, partners – to celebrate Urban Squash’s 20th Anniversary, a two-day event in New York City that will be held in conjunction with the Tournament of Champions and the Urban Squash Team Nationals.
We hope you mark your calendars and join us for the occasion.
For now, please continue to support the urban squash program in your community. And if there is not a program in your city, let’s change that.
Thank you for your support and all the best in 2014.
Bill Simon, Board Chair