Grand Circle Foundation sponsors a team of 28 sixth-grade students from Roxbury
How does an athletic activity foster not only good sportsmanship, but also academic excellence and a sense of social responsibility? At SquashBusters, these values go hand-in-hand as part of an innovative afterschool program that combines the game of squash with academic tutoring and community service for inner city youth. Now in its 14th year, the program serves nearly 115 students from grades six through 12 during the school year, and another 60 students over the summer.
Grand Circle Foundation has supported SquashBusters since 1998 with grants and pledges totaling $505,000—and in 2010, we're taking our partnership one step further by sponsoring a team of 28 sixth-graders from the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. This will be the first-ever sponsorship of a specific team in SquashBusters' history, and our contribution of $50,000 will cover the team's operating costs for the entire year.
As the program's outstanding results have demonstrated, this sponsorship promises to be a worthwhile investment in the futures of the young team members. Since 1996, 100% of SquashBusters' alumni have graduated from high school—compared with just 67% in the city of Boston overall. What's more, 84% of alumni have matriculated to college, compared with the Boston Public Schools' average matriculation rate of just 43%.
The inspirational success of the program earned its founder, Greg Zaff, the Lewis Changing People's Lives award in 2003. A former top-ranked squash professional in Boston, Zaff wanted to use his love of the sport to positively impact the lives of inner city youth—and in 1996, SquashBusters was born. That year, with Greg running operations primarily out of his apartment in Cambridge, the collective attendance rate of the first 24 participants was an impressive 95%—which included squash lessons, academic tutoring, community service events, and weekend games and tournaments.
Today, enrollment is at an all-time high, with nearly 175 participants training throughout the year at a state-of-the-art facility that was opened in 2003 in partnership with Northeastern University. Grand Circle Foundation donated $100,000 toward the construction of the SquashBusters facility, which allowed the growing program to keep up with the demand it had created.
In early April, a group of Grand Circle associates visited this facility with a special request for the SquashBusters team sponsored by the Foundation. They asked the students to create a "Flat Stanley" character to join them on an adventure in Nepal—and upon their return home, the associates will invite the students to view a presentation featuring plenty of photos of the character they designed. It's sure to be a fun way to introduce the young people to a fascinating new country and culture.
We look forward to the beginning of what we're sure will be a memorable year as a SquashBusters team sponsor—and the continuation of a valuable partnership that is just as rewarding as ever.