ESPN remains committed to supporting the U.S. Tennis Association Foundation’s flagship program, National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL), as its chapters continue to face devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June, the USTA Foundation launched their campaign, “Rally to Rebuild,” to support the NJTL, which plays a crucial role in the lives of over 160,000 under-resourced youth in 250 diverse communities across the United States. NJTL was co-founded by legendary tennis player Arthur Ashe in 1969, and the pandemic has forced these chapters to cancel or suspend programming, and many were unable to hold traditional fundraising events. Youth rely on the program for on-court lessons, as well as educational and life skill components to help them develop tools to maximize their human potential.
ESPN is a supporter of the program, and celebrated NJTL’s 50th anniversary in 2019 by helping the USTA build the capacity of 22 chapters, which provided 12,000 underserved youth access to tennis. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN has worked closely with the USTA Foundation to ensure immediate impact to youth who rely on NJTL chapters, so they can continue to stay healthy, exercise remotely, stay equipped and access resources.
Gratefully, the USTA Foundation has exceeded its goal to raise funds for NJTL chapters, thanks in-part to donations made by the organization, its board – led by Chairperson Chris Evert – athletes, business partners and tennis fans.
As part of its fundraising efforts for “Rally to Rebuild,” the USTA Foundation featured its Black Lives to the Front art exhibition throughout the 2020 U.S. Open, to spotlight 18 painted works on canvas created by Black and BIPOC artists. These painted canvases sat in front-row seats inside Arthur Ashe stadium during the first two weeks of the U.S. Open to shine a spotlight on the artists’ talent. The art pieces were then put up for charitable auction and will allow chapters to either sustain or expand its efforts to aid youth during these times.