How do our grantees advance racial equity and or youth engagement in their programs?
Toward the end of 2018, the Youthprise Research and Evaluation Team conducted grantee interviews to investigate that question. We were purposeful about making the interview process more interactive and comfortable for our grantees, and intentional about selecting grantees that we had not typically highlighted. The Research and Evaluation Team designed an interview template that followed our theory of change, and the themes throughout the interviews were racial equity and youth engagement.
One goal of the interviews was to strengthen our relationships with our grantees and to elevate and share their stories of impact. In 2019, the Team compiled the data and wrote the stories, which will now be highlighted on our website and social media.
Saint Paul Urban Tennis
For over 25 years, Saint Paul Urban Tennis (SPUT) has been using tennis and other leadership activities and strategies to provide structured opportunities for youth to learn, grow, have fun, and develop leadership, employment, and athletic skills. In addition, skill-building, employment opportunities, academic engagement, and much more are offered. Core values include inclusion, character development, health and wellbeing, the pursuit of excellence, and partnerships.
Youth Leadership at SPUT looks like the Warriors Leadership Academy, Youth Council Membership, and Youth Coach opportunities.
The Youth Council provides a voice for youth by allowing them to play a huge part in the direction and programming of the organization. In addition, there is a youth liaison to the board to give input from a youth’s perspective.
“Putting youth in leadership positions so that they can have a direct impact on changing their community and experience the feeling of giving back encourages shared decision making power and confidence."
-Allen and Gee, SPUT participants
We spoke with two young people, Allen and Gee, about their work with SPUT.
Allen, 16- years old, is a part of the Youth Council and takes tennis lessons.
Gee, 17-years old, is a Youth Assistant Coach and helps younger participants in their endeavors.
SPUT takes pride in being intentional about hiring a diverse staff. Youth employees express that their place of work “is a place where you can be valued” with “a sense of community” because everyone “makes a conscious effort to include everybody.”
ADVANCING YOUTH LEADERSHIP AND RACIAL EQUITY
The organization makes it a priority to offer scholarships to youth in need. They hope that with additional funding, they can bring back free tennis courts since the majority of tennis is no longer free. This has resulted in increased barriers for youth who can’t afford services. More funding will allow them to advance their racial equity model so that there are more opportunities for youth from any family income level.
As a part of their workshop series, SPUT offer workshops on privilege and oppression. They are working toward developing partnerships with other organizations that also invest in racial equity so they can continue learning, increase their expertise, and provide more resources.