CityLab and Urban Squash: A New Pathway to Achieve STEM Success
CityLab recently received a $1.3 million NIH SEPA Grant to encourage underrepresented students to STEM careers.
Squashbusters was founded in 1996 as the first after-school program of its kind in the United States- combining squash, academics, and community service. The organization’s aim was to serve students from Boston and Cambridge Public Schools through the most crucial years of their development, with the goals of building strong personal character, ensuring that students matriculate to and graduate from college, and improving the overall physical and emotional health of its students. In 2003, SqB moved into its own youth center which houses eight squash courts and four classrooms, providing an appropriate setting for the first offering of the newly developed CityLab curriculum. The new facility has allowed SqB to triple its enrollment by launching a high school program, college counseling, and an alumni support program.
CS is a not-for-profit after-school enrichment program based in the Bronx at Fordham University and in Brooklyn at Poly Prep (although there are no definite plans to expand to Brooklyn within the five years of this grant, Brooklyn will be a possible early site for the national dissemination effort). CS helps motivated and talented young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic, athletic and personal potential. Founded in 2002, CS currently serves 175 elementary, middle, high school and college students. CS requires an intensive, year-round commitment that includes squash, tutoring, mentoring, community service, travel, culture, college prep, and career support. CS begins working with students in third grade and serves them through college graduation.
SS was founded in September 1999 as the second urban squash program in the United States. A comprehensive youth enrichment program, SS combines academic tutoring, squash instruction, community service, college preparation, leadership development, and mentoring for young people ages 11-24. What began as an after-school program with 24 middle school students and 2 staff members has expanded to serve nearly 300 participants from 6th grade through college graduation and entry into the workforce. To support its activities, SS has had significant success in fundraising to support its activities. For example, the StreetSquashCup raised more than $1.1M in May 2015.
The urban squash education model has been replicated throughout the country and abroad (in Canada, Colombia, India, and South Africa). Today, there are independent urban squash education programs in Boston, Bronx/Brooklyn, Harlem/Newark, Philadelphia, Hartford, New Haven, Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, Santa Barbara, Oakland and San Diego, collectively serving more than 1000 students per year. These independent organizations have satisfied NUSEA’s strict standards for membership including requirements for academic offerings and fundraising to ensure the vitality and success of all programs (16). NUSEA’s mission “is to support the creation, development, and improvement of urban squash and education programs across the United States and around the world.” (17) NUSEA helps to launch new urban squash education programs and supports its member programs by identifying best practices and creating forums to share ideas.