[This blog was written and contributed by Lauren Rich, Director of Development at MetroSquash] We wanted to build a transformative program for students in Chicago. When we learned about the urban squash movement that started in Boston, which used squash to build a bridge to college success, we knew that bringing this movement to Chicago was the perfect opportunity to begin making impactful change. In 2005, we founded our own program: MetroSquash.
Our funding gives us the opportunity to pay for everything for our students; we just ask for 10 hours of their time each week. While squash is the thread interwoven throughout our after-school program, it is just one element of it. Students are also given access to academic tutoring, career opportunities, community service-oriented field trips and are taught valuable life skills that lead to success in college and life after school. This year, all 16 of our high school seniors gained acceptance to their best-matched colleges and universities, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Arizona and Depaul University.
DRW is a natural fit as part of our support system. Squash is the leisure sport of many professionals and leads to relationship-building opportunities outside the workplace. Through the Holiday Giving Challenge and other efforts, DRW has provided MetroSquash with both financial support and mentors for students.
We have aggressive fundraising goals, but we won’t relent in building enrichment opportunities for our kids. We aim to expand our career-readiness program throughout all of the grade levels with which we work. MetroSquash provides deeper exposure to career opportunities beginning in middle school continuing to high school with a formal externship program, concluding with an in-depth college internship experience. Through the program, MetroSquash students are able to see what life is like in a professional setting and learn about different career paths.
We’re also exploring areas of need to determine where to open another location. Our goal is to grow our program to serve more students while still maintaining an emphasis on high-quality programming at our original location, 6100 S. Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago.
If you’re seeking more information on MetroSquash, you can check out their website at metrosquash.org.