NJTL of the Year: Portland After School Tennis & Education
For nearly 20 years, Portland After School Tennis & Education in Oregon has been helping to deliver services that have significantly impacted the lives of at-risk children and their families.
The organization was started in 1996 by Ernest Hartzog, the former assistant superintendent for Portland schools, whose goal was for low-income kids to learn how to play tennis, says current Executive Director Danice Brown. Thanks to his solid foundation, the program has evolved to include much, much more.
“After I came on board in 2007, I told the board, ‘We’re keeping a group of children “kind of” safe for one hour.’ I suggested we limit it to 12 children, participating for eight weeks, two hours a day, with two coaches.”
The year-round program now has 64 kids, who receive 12 to 16 hours a week of tutoring or enrichment, in addition to tennis (lessons, clinics, JTT and tournaments). But PAST&E also touches more than 1,000 kids a year through programming throughout Portland.
PAST&E has been recognized as a “Best in Class” program for the USTA’s National Junior Tennis & Learning network, and for 2015, it’s Tennis Industry’s inaugural winner of the NJTL of the Year award.
Brown, a former general manager at a private club, herself was named TI’s Grassroots Champion in 2012 for her work with PAST&E, but she’s quick to credit the help of many in the NJTL’s success, including her “mentor,” Dave Higaki of East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring. — Peter Francesconi
Tips for Success
- Parents need to connect with and understand tennis, so create opportunities for them to learn and play the game, too.
- Programs need to think in terms of the needs of the children. To have a real impact on kids, they spend at least 12 hours a week at PAST&E; 60 percent of their time is on academics and 40 percent on tennis/fitness.
- Parternships, partnerships, partnerships! Take advantage of all you can to reach your goals.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.
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