VCU Community Engagement News

Center for Community Engagement and Impact

Lobs & Lessons staff on a tennis court with a large group of kids, all pulling silly faces and poses.

The grants will support tennis and college discovery programs at the center through fall 2022. 

The VCU Mary and Frances Youth Center received four grants from the United States Tennis Association amounting to $18,500 for use in 2021-22. These grants will help develop, support and expand Lobs & Lessons after school programming.

The Tennis Creates Grant was used to fund staffing for an expanded tennis program that introduced the sport to 30 students from St. Andrew’s School. MFYC has served students from St. Andrew’s School for over five years. The program’s expansion to include students from lower grades allowed MFYC to support the students’ physical fitness, career and college exploration and Social and Emotional Learning skills at an earlier age. 

The Grow the Game Grant defrayed some of the costs of delivering quality entry-level programs for organizations actively engaging new and returning players into the sport of tennis in a safe and meaningful way.

The USTA Foundation Cycle Grant provided support for MFYC’s Richmond Public Schools extended day programming, which includes free academic support and enrichment for students. The purpose of the extended day program is to introduce tennis to RPS students and identify promising and interested youth through offsite afterschool programs. With the help of this grant, MFYC was able to provide 12 weeks of off-site programming to 6 schools through Peter Paul in spring 2022.

The College Connection Grant will help bring Richmond youth onto VCU campus this fall through a new College & Career Explorers program. The program will engage students from two middle schools with panels, workshops, tours and activities hosted by various VCU departments, staff, faculty and current VCU students. The middle school students will also attend lessons from The College Place, which will include a curriculum for preparing for college.

“[The College & Career Explorers program] will be robust in the sense that students will be on campus, exploring places of study, looking at the bigger picture of finances and what they actually want to do when they graduate high school,” said Rachel Rhoney, assistant director of the Mary and Frances Youth Center. 

Program participants will be able to envision themselves in a college setting while exploring topics such as engineering, college athletics, financial literacy and more. The goal of the program is to create a sustainable, mutually beneficial and long-term partnership between RPS middle schools, VCU and Lobs & Lessons.

The Mary and Frances Youth Center and USTA Mid-Atlantic have had a reciprocal relationship since the program’s inception in 2004.  “The Lobs & Lessons program is a shining example of what a youth tennis enrichment program can deliver at the highest levels and exemplifies how tennis creates community, character, and well-being for all,” said Alex Chan, associate director of community engagement at the United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Section. “USTA Mid-Atlantic is proud to provide grant funding to support a program such as this so it can continue to increase access to tennis and make a life-long positive impact on all that participate.”

Categories Mary and Frances Youth Center
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