Nonprofit organizations working to foster positive youth development through participation in sports face a challenging funding environment, a report from finds.
Based on survey responses from more than a hundred nonprofits using sports "as a tool for social change," the report, (11 pages, PDF), found that many organizations are constrained by limited financial investment and capacity. Collectively serving 456,893 youth between the ages of 6 and 18 in 2016, the nonprofits in the study are working to address the obesity epidemic, improve access to sports for low-income youth, advocate against cuts for physical education in schools, combat an over-emphasis on academic skills at the expense of social and emotional development, and defuse social tensions that lead to conflict, youth violence, and discrimination.
According to the survey, poverty and the resulting lack of educational and life opportunities were the most significant barriers that youth in their programs face, with more than three-quarters of respondents saying that at least 80 percent of program participants were low-income youth and 39 percent reporting that at least half their participants were girls. Among participating youth, 46 percent were African American, 34 percent were Latino/a, 15 percent were white, 9 percent were mixed race, and 7 percent were Asian American.
The survey also found that while 84 percent of respondents provided year-round programming and many also provided mentoring (84 percent), community events (67 percent), nutrition and health support (67 percent), and academic tutoring and support (54 percent), a significant majority (70 percent) had budgets of under $1 million. And while 88 percent of the nonprofits in the study received some grant funding, more than three-quarters said at least 80 percent of their grant dollars were one-year grants. The report estimates that if sufficient funding were in place, organizations in the study could serve an additional thirty-eight thousand youth annually.
"Increased financial support is needed for the sector to grow to its full potential," the report concludes. "Sport for development organizations face consistent demands for increased programming in support of additional reach; however, organizational growth in both quality and capacity is best served by increased internal investment in overhead, staff retention, and coach training."
(Photo credit: Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA)