April 2023 Community Partner: Friends of NYSP

Friends of NYSP

In 1970, Case Western Reserve University became a site for the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), a then federally funded summer sports, enrichment, life skills and nutrition program for urban, economically disadvantaged youth. The university was among more than 200 colleges and universities around the country that hosted the five-week camp each summer. 

But in 2006, Congress eliminated all funding for the summer program and nearly all of the country’s NYSP programs were shuttered. As resources to fund the program dried up, two champions for NYSP at Case Western Reserve emerged: the City of Cleveland, which generously stepped up to serve as NYSP’s primary financial sponsor; and the Friends of NYSP, a group of CWRU supporters and alumni.

Since then, the Friends of NYSP have made it their mission to ensure that the program continues and that Cleveland youth who want to participate in NYSP each summer have the opportunity to do so. “We are a small, collaborative group with three roles: advocacy for NYSP, funding and to serve as a connection to the community,” explains Chris Nance, a member of the Friends of NYSP. “The consistent role of NYSP has been to communicate the importance of the program and to move it from the edges and into the university’s core strategy.” 

Since its inception, Friends of NYSP successfully have increased the program’s visibility with the university’s Board of Trustees, university leadership and the broader community. The Friends of NYSP also have played a critical role in building a relationship between the program and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. And now that NYSP functions under the CWRU Office of Government and Community Relations and is aligned with the university’s other K-12 outreach programs, which include TRIO and School-Based Outreach, the Friends of NYSP are even more energized about the program’s future. 

“We’re really excited about the fact that these programs are part of the university’s community outreach strategy,” says Nance. “With this realignment, [Friends of NYSP] can focus our efforts in a much more strategic way, both in terms of funding and in terms of determining how the work of NYSP aligns with the broader mission, vision and work of Case Western Reserve, especially as it relates to engaging with the community.”

Visit NYSP online to learn more or to make a gift to support NYSP. To join the Friends of NYSP, contact NYSP Director Dennis Harris.