Creating Scholar Athletes: Tennis & Education

by Portland After-School Tennis & Education
Ashley, Christian & Dad Show Off Their Handiwork
Ashley, Christian & Dad Show Off Their Handiwork

It has been a beautiful summer, kicked off by the gift of a beautiful new garden sign, created by scholar athletes Ashley and Christian and their father—a perfect beginning for a summer dedicated to appreciating and preserving the natural world.

Each summer scholar athletes spend 9-weeks in our "Serving Up Success" program. This program is specifically designed to stop summer learning loss. Learning progress lost over the summer months disproportionately affects low-income students. It is one of the major causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students.

This summer, our Serving Up Success program follows the theme "Kids Saving the Earth," and each week has had its own exciting theme. So far we've explored:


Composting Counts

Plain as Water

This Land is Your Land - and Things are Warming Up

Everything Creepy Crawly and Fuzzy Wuzzy

Scholar athletes have enjoyed learning activities, science experiments, field trips, and community service projects, all helping them learn about the environment and what they can do to protect it.

It has been a splendid year for the environment at PT&E. In April we celebrated Earth Day with our annual Earth Day Walk. This year our walk was an opportunity to learn about Earth's history. Step by step, scholar athletes took the journey from the forming of the Earth, 4.5 billion years ago, up to the current day. The halfway point found us in North Portland's Pier Park where we were met by entomologist Mark Hitchcox who talked with the kids about the park and the creatures and plants that live there.

It has been an exciting summer for tennis as well. July brought the Davis Cup to the Portland area, and PT&E scholar athletes were in the thick of it. At the US Davis Cup Team Family Fun Fair, the Monday before the competition, scholar athletes and coach/tutors did some art making with the US Davis Cup Team—hitting paint-soaked tennis balls against a fresh canvas. On Wednesday, the collegiate players traveling with the US Davis Cup Team visited PT&E and held a mini tennis clinic with the kids. On Thursday, scholar athletes trekked downtown to Pioneer Courthouse Square to join the Davis Cup teams for the coin-flip ceremony. They performed to Beyoncé's "Let's Move" and displayed their skills with exhibition matches on the square. Throughout the competition—Friday, Saturday, & Sunday—PT&E scholar athletes had the honor of serving as flag-bearers and ball kids.

It is your support that makes these crucial learning opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities possible for PT&E scholar athletes. Your contributions open doors otherwise closed to low-income youth. We thank you.

What these students most need is steady support. If you have not already done so, please consider signing up for a monthly contribution. Or "sponsor a champion" in the Serving Up Success program.

As a sponsor, you will be personally matched with a child and have the opportunity to get to know each other through letters, as well as a quarterly update that includes a short note written by them and progress on their tennis and academic success. Additionally, your sponsorship also includes invitations to PT&E events such as our annual end of the year Sponsor-A-Champion BBQ, where you will be able to enjoy time with them and their peers. 

Visit our website to learn more! —

Mariyah Investigates the Pier Park Canopy
Mariyah Investigates the Pier Park Canopy
Davis Cup Ball Kids: Cesar, Angel, Gerry, & Miguel
Davis Cup Ball Kids: Cesar, Angel, Gerry, & Miguel
Scholar Athletes & US Davis Cup Team with Painting
Scholar Athletes & US Davis Cup Team with Painting
Candidates for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
Candidates for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

The sun is returning to the Portland skies, the soil in the gardens is warming-up and the trees that shade the St. Johns Racquet Center are coming into leaf again. While outside things are just getting underway, inside, the last 3 months have been as active as any Spring day and we're thrilled to share that with you. (Including a name change from Portland After School Tennis & Education to Portland Tennis & Education.)

In March, we eagerly anticipated Spring and got a head start on Earth Day, a holiday enthusiastically celebrated by the Portland Tennis & Education family. The budding scholar athletes in the Preescolar Bilingüe celebrated recycling month. These youngest among us worked on projects about reusing, reducing, and recycling and learned to be stewards of the Earth.

In that spirit, the whole community came together for our annual birdhouse competition. Families and staff were challenged to make functional birdhouses entirely from reused and recycled materials (excepting nails and glue). This year's Annual Birdhouse Contest was a great success with over 25 houses submitted! Community events like the birdhouse contest are a key part of our program, bringing together the Portland Tennis & Education family to celebrate creativity, collaboration and other core values.

This strong community is one of the most important elements of this program you so generously support. Just as Portland Tennis & Education's scholar athletes benefit from your generosity, we aim for them to develop generosity as one of their core values. In February, all the scholar athletes, from Preschool through 10th grade participated in Kids for Peace's Great Kindness Challenge. During the challenge, scholar athletes built a colorful paper "kindness chain," with each link representing a kind act practiced: using good manners, sharing, helping without being asked, following directions the first time, and so much more. Like a burning flame, kindness is not reduced in the sharing of it. Scholar athletes put this into practice, collecting change for Kind Coins For Kenya, a program that raises money for building schools in Kenya. Our scholar athletes donated $250 so that Kenyan students can have a safe, stable place to learn in their village. 

We know from firsthand experience the positive impact of our program, and we greatly value the contribution you as a supporter make in this, so we are pleased to share the public recognition the program receives. During the past three months, our scholar athletes and Portland Tennis & Education have garnered exceptional recognition.

We are proud to announce that Portland Tennis & Education Seventh Graders and their families were invited to research and apply for the The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program, which has "to date supported over 800 students from across the nation, providing them with individualized educational advising combined with comprehensive financial support from the 8th grade through high school.” A scholarship award would provide the opportunity for assistance from an academic and college counselor, funding for summer and academic enrichment programs, internships and study abroad opportunities, and educational resources including books and technology. Dr. Bukhosi Dube, member of our Board and past recipient of this scholarship, has been advising families and helping them through the application process.

In January, Portland Tennis & Education received one of the greatest accolades in its two decade history. Each year Tennis Industry magazine announces its "Champions of Tennis" awards. In 2013, our Executive Director, Danice Brown, was recognized as "Grassroots Tennis Champion of the Year" for her work with Portland Tennis & Education. Now Tennis Industry has chosen us as their inaugural recipient of the "National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapter of the Year" award. This recognition is one that all scholar athletes, families, staff, volunteers, and supporters like yourself can take pride in. With Portland Tennis & Education in the spotlight what we do here is all the more important, and the contributions you make will have all the more impact. The USTA already uses as Portland Tennis & Education as a model for other NJTL chapters, and this award increases the visibility of our work. Donations to our program will effect tennis and tutoring both in the St. Johns neighborhood and across the country.

All of the above is but a small taste of what has happened over just the last three months, we encourage you to visit our Facebook page to see all the exciting activity that has ushered us into Spring.

All of these exciting opportunities and achievements, the vigorous mental and physical growth of our scholar athletes, depends on tutors and families, true, but it also depends upon the support of individuals like you. We thank you for your past support and encourage you to donate again. If you have not already, please consider signing up for a monthly donation at GlobalGiving.

Cesar & His Family Show Off Their Birdhouse
Cesar & His Family Show Off Their Birdhouse
Counting Kind Coins for Kenya Donations
Counting Kind Coins for Kenya Donations


Pajama Day in the Preescolar Meerkat Room!
Pajama Day in the Preescolar Meerkat Room!

Dear Friend,


Greetings from all of us at PAST&E, where your generous support is changing the lives of at-risk and low-income youth in Portland, Oregon, USA. We would like to share some upates from our program:



This December we brought to a close the first session of our new Preescolar Bilingüe program, which now extends our program all the way from Preschool through Twelfth Grade. Students in the Preescolar "Meerkat" room learn to express themselves and discover the world around them in both Spanish and English. These children are learning with two bilingual instructors and with a ratio of students to teachers no greater than 6:1. Early Childhood education is essential for low-income youth to start learning on the right foot. The students also get their first taste of fitness and tennis as Coach Izzy and Coach Gavi lead them daily through tennis basics on the court, building habits of good health that will serve them throughout life. The program continues on in the new year, promising to be a powerful support for students that expands their capacity for spoken expression and gives them a head start in the attainment of invaluable literacy skills.



In another first this year, PAST&E's new FIRST LEGO League robotics team participated in December's Trash Trek Lego Tournament! Angel, Alex, Ashley, Bryan, Damion, Leilani, and Marissa presented their tennis ball recycling project and their robot design, and competed in three rounds of robot competition against other teams. The tournament program is strictly student-led and  we are proud to report that the team members successfully negotiated their way through the event under their own able direction. Both team members and coaches are looking forward to another year, where they will review, dissect, and attempt to best their performance from the 2015 tournament, learn the ins and outs of robot design and programming, and prepare for and participate in the 2016 Tournament season.



Our Scholar Athletes continued to build on their athletic success this quarter. Several PAST&E players competed in the Greater Portland Tennis Council's December "Junior Challenger Tournament" at Tualatin Hill Tennis Center. Four Scholar Athletes took home top prizes, with Alex taking Second Place in Boys' 10 & Under Singles, the team of Ristom and Ariel taking Second Place in Boys' 14 & Under Doubles, and Miguel taking First Place in Boys' 16 & Under Singles.



While we encourage excellence in athletics at PAST&E, your generous contributions above all help put academic achievement front and center in the lives of Scholar Athletes, ensuring that they are not intellectually held back by adverse circumstance. We are therefore thrilled to announce that the USTA/NJTL recently recognized five Scholar Athletes for their academic achievement in the 2014-2015 school year. Four students received first-place awards for the Pacific Northwest section of the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest: Leilani (11/12 Girls), Ristom (11/12 Boys), Gerry (13/14 Boys), and Miguel (15/16 Boys). Scholar Athlete Angel won 2nd Place in the Boys Middle School category of the National Student Athlete Competition. The NSAC recognizes students for their combined hard work, dedication, and accomplishment at school and on the court.



We have rung in the New Year and completed another year-end appeal marked by numerous generous donations, but it is never too late to show your continuing support. We recieve support from many foundations and corporations for new projects but it is the individual donations of supporters like yourself that provide the solid foundation on which our program continues year-round, providing tuition-free academic tutoring and tennis instruction Spring, Summer, Fall, and Summer. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to consider a monthly recurring donation at GlobalGiving.


We thank you, and invite you to vist us at

PAST&E Robotics Team Preparing to Compete!
PAST&E Robotics Team Preparing to Compete!
New Scholar Athletes join PAST&E!
New Scholar Athletes join PAST&E!
Dear Friend,
With your support PAST&E is continuing in our mission to improve the lives of at-risk youth in Portland, Oregon, USA. Here are a few updates from our program:
This summer 65 Scholar Athletes, K-12, participated in our nine week Serving Up Success Summer Program to stop summer learning loss. Our Scholar Athletes were challenged to travel the globe in The Amazing Race, learning about different countries, cultures, and global issues while strengthening their reading, writing, and math skills. Scholar Athletes began their learning adventure in France then traveled to Brazil, China, Israel, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Canada, Vietnam and finished their journey in Australia.
Each day of learning is a divergence from what many Scholar Athletes experience in school. We emphasize Scholar Athlete led learning, where a Scholar Athlete or group of Scholar Athletes are presented with a challenge and then experiment to find a solution on their own. We hope to enable each Scholar Athlete to love investigating and coming up with creative solutions to simple and difficult problems alike!
Each weekend Scholar Athletes, age 8 and up, compete with juniors from across the greater Portland area in low-cost 10 & Under and Challenger Tournaments hosted at St. Johns Racquet Center home of PAST&E. By keeping the cost at a third the average rate of junior tournament fees, our nine week summer tournament series gives children the opportunity to experience tournament play. These tournaments allow PAST&E to fulfill its mission to keep the sport of tennis accessible to our Scholar Athletes and other low-income families. 
St. Johns Racquet Center, home of Portland After-School Tennis & Education (PAST&E), debuted its newly resurfaced courts to community supporters and partners Monday evening. Mike Stone, former St. Johns Racquet Center Manager, Ernest Hartzog, PAST&E Founder, and Danice Brown, Executive Director, hit the first balls on the new courts surrounded by friends and supporters of the program. 
The court improvements, including resurfacing and redraping, would not have been possible without the support from the United States Tennis Association Facilities Assistance Program and the United States Tennis Association Pacific Northwest Section. Steve Huber, of Tennis Surface and Maintenance, and his team did an excellent job with the court resurfacing. All three courts include both 36’ and 60’ lines to accommodate all levels and ages of players. 
To the players at St. Johns Racquet Center, the courts represent more than an arena to play tennis. The players and USTA Teams that utilize the facility directly support PAST&E and its programming each time they play on our courts. Each year, over 1,000 children from low-income families benefit from athletic and academic programming that takes place in the facility. Because of St. Johns Racquet Center PAST&E is able to make tennis accessible to low-income families.
The Fall Junior Team Tennis season is well under way! Sixteen Scholar Athletes represent PAST&E on two teams: the Straight Aces and the Kids on the Court. Our teams have been traveling to local clubs and tennis facilities meeting and competing with players across Greater Portland. So far they've won three matches and over 100 games!
Coach Leon helps Mariyah get ready for her match
Coach Leon helps Mariyah get ready for her match
St. Johns Racquet Center
St. Johns Racquet Center's New Courts!
Alan learning about Brazil
Alan learning about Brazil's rainforests.

Dear Friend,

With your support PAST&E is continuing in our mission to improve the lives of at-risk youth in Portland, Oregon, USA. Here are a few updates from our program:

Serving Up Succes Summer Program

June 22nd marked the start of PAST&E's 9 week Serving Up Success Summer Program to STOP Summer Learning Loss. 

More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation and reading skills over the summer months. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college. Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children-particularly children at high risk of obesity-gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break.

Join us this summer as we travel the globe in The Amazing Race! PAST&E Scholar Athletes make up nine teams: the French Gallic Roosters, the Brazilian Jaguars, the Canadian Beavers, the Australian Red Kangaroos, the Ukrainian Mouflons, the Chinese Pandas, the Israeli Gazelles, the Zimbabwean Sable Antelopes, and the Vietnamese Water Buffalos.  

Throughout the week teams have the opportunity to earn points in daily geography, reading, writing, math, science, cultural (art, food, music, dance, religion), fitness, games, and tennis challenges. Track each team's progress as they explore France, Brazil,China, Israel, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Canada, Vietnam, and Australia. Check out our Serving Up Success page to pick a team and cheer them on all summer!

#ReturnTheServe #Portland

PAST&E has been selected as one of 10 National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters to participate in JPMorgan Chase's twitter campaign, #ReturnTheServe. The NJTL chapter that secures the most mentions will receive $10,000. The campaign will conclude Aug. 14 and the winning program will be announced on Friday, August 21.

How to Vote

Each supporter is allowed one vote per day regardless of method used to vote (Twitter or Instagram) between now and August 14th

  • Follow @PASTandE on Twitter and @pastande_stjohns on Instagram and retweet/repost our daily posts
  • Or create a post on Twitter or Instagram with #ReturnTheServe and #Portland included in the text.
  • Example: I support #ReturnTheServe #Portland. Retweet and help @PASTandE win $10,000 to make tennis accessible to low-income youth.

Thank you for your continued support!

Gema reading about our world.
Gema reading about our world.
Coach Jules & Jeremy writing in their journals.
Coach Jules & Jeremy writing in their journals.
Felipe & Pierre at the arts & culture station.
Felipe & Pierre at the arts & culture station.
Rosie, Olivia & Marissa in the reading tent.
Rosie, Olivia & Marissa in the reading tent.

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Organization Information

Portland After-School Tennis & Education

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Danice Brown
Executive Director
Portland, OR United States
$5,187 raised of $10,000 goal
87 donations
$4,813 to go
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