Creating Scholar Athletes: Tennis & Education

by Portland After-School Tennis & Education
Leilani and Kassandra Performing La Bamba
Leilani and Kassandra Performing La Bamba

In November, PT&E Scholar Athletes, Coach/Tutors, and families had the wonderful opportunity to take part in the PowerShares Series Tennis: Champions Challenge in Portland. We sat up close as we watched USTA Foundation Chairman James Blake outplay his fellow pros Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, and Mark Philippoussis, in a series of exhibition matches. But, it wasn't just an opportunity for the Scholar Athletes get up close to top-level tennis. Led by Kirk Anderson, the USTA's Director of Coaching Education, 20 of our Scholar Athletes provided PowerShares attendees with a demonstration of the 10 & Under Clinic techniques that are shaping a new generation of tennis players. 12 of our middle and high school Scholar Athletes got in the game as well. Carefully selected and trained, these young men and women served at the event as ball people for the four pros during their matches.

Of course, tennis is our most spectacular activity at PT&E, but their involvement with our program provides youth with all sorts of opportunities--spectacles among them. In December, students from the Pacific University College of Optometry and Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation with KEX Kids Fund teamed up to visit PT&E and provide Scholar Athletes and their families with free eye exams and new eyeglasses. Academic achievement is at the core of our mission and something as simple as a pair of glasses can have a major impact on a student's school success.

And all these opportunities can be traced back to the support of donors like you--support that was overwhelmingly in evidence at our first ever fundraising gala - The First Annual Tennis Ball. It is fair to say that we *ahem* ACED it. And we know that with the support of donors like yourself it will not prove to be beginner's luck. The gala was packed with cherished members of our community from our Founder Ernest Hartzog to our newest Board members Roshelle Risenhoover and Greg Van Gasse, staff and volunteers past and present, proud graduates of the program, and many, many donors, all gathered there to celebrate Portland Tennis & Education's 20th anniversary.

Most of our donors are firmly established in adulthood, but it seems it is never too early to start. We are proud to share with you that our friend Ira is  turning 13 this month and he let us know: "When I become thirteen, I will have a Bar Mitzvah, and part of that is completing a project that helps the environment or the community. I play and love tennis and want to support this after-school organization for my project." Until his birthday, Ira is lobbying family and friends to lend their support to Portland Tennis & Education.

We thank you for your generosity and would ask you to follow Ira's example: Whether or not you can donate more, please consider lending us something even more valuable, your voice. Let your friends know about us. Point them to our Global Giving page or thePortland Tennis & Education website. Get the word out.

A happy New Year and heartfelt thanks from everyone at PT&E!

Scholar Athletes Center Court at PowerShares
Scholar Athletes Center Court at PowerShares
Thanks, Pacific University College of Optometry!
Thanks, Pacific University College of Optometry!
Rosie (High School Academy) and ED Danice at Gala.
Rosie (High School Academy) and ED Danice at Gala.
Damon Studies in Summer
Damon Studies in Summer's Waning Sun

Summer has come to a close, and with the first days of Fall have come the winds and the rain and the cold. But, because of generous donors like you, Portland Tennis & Education's Scholar Athletes have a place that is dry and out of the elements, where they can play and exercise and stay healthy. And, just as important, their summer activities have readied them for another school year.

Having spent their summer at our Serving Up Success summer program, scholar athletes have remained mentally and physically active. They have had little chance to suffer the summer learning loss that affects so many low-income students. They are ready once again for a new school year and will not waste time playing catch-up with their more affluent peers.

This summer two of our scholar athletes received national recognition for their athletic and intellectual prowess. Ashley was selected as national winner in the USTA Foundation's 2016 Arthur Ashe Essay Contest in the Girls 11-12 category. In recognition of her essay, inspired by Althea Gibson, about how lessons learned on the tennis court can help development and character off it, Ashley was invited to NYC for Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. While in New York, Ashley gave a speech, celebrated with her fellow contest winners, and watched some of tennis' greatest stars practicing for the US Open. 

After intensive training and tryouts, this summer PT&E High School Academy scholar athlete Miguel was selected as a ball person for the Davis Cup quarterfinals held here in Oregon. Going from strength to strength, Miguel was selected as a ball person for the US Open, one of the four Grand Slam titles! Miguel traveled to New York City where he was a ball person for several matches, including for US player Christian Harrison. While there Miguel got to see John Isner compete and Jack Sock in warm-up. And on a trip to Central Park, Miguel ran into Ukrainian player Alexandr Dolgopolov. Miguel was inspired by seeing all how far hard work and dedication can take one in the sport, and he has brought that energy back to PT&E where it has infected his fellow High School Academy students Rosie and Alberto.

Though we don't always trumpet the fact, your generous contributions benefit more people than the scholar athletes at PT&E. As a top National Junior Tennis & Learning Network we are frequently used as a model for new NJTL chapters, and Danice Brown, our Executive Director, has served as a mentor for many new chapters. Every dollar you donate has impact across the country. This September we were proud to announce that we now have a new sister program in the Border Youth Tennis Exchange (BYTE).  One of Danice's oldest mentees, Charlie Cutler, since his days as a teen tennis player in Portland, has opened a new NJTL in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona. The Border Youth Tennis Exchange (BYTE) is working to connect youth over the Mexico-US border. As great believer in Charlie and his mission, we have joined in partnership with BYTE as a sister program. At first this will be a simple pen pal relationship for our students. But we are already working on grants and other funding so our students can visit the students in Nogales and they can visit us here.

We invite you to make a one-time gift or consider setting up a monthly donation. This is a great chance to make an investment in the lasting success of our scholar athletes, of St. Johns, of Portland, and of youth throughout the US and beyond.

Ashley & Arthur Ashe
Ashley & Arthur Ashe
Our New NJTL Sister Chapter!
Our New NJTL Sister Chapter!
Scholar Athletes Enjoy Guitar Lessons w/ Coach Bob
Scholar Athletes Enjoy Guitar Lessons w/ Coach Bob
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!

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Organization Information

Portland After-School Tennis & Education

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Portland After-School Tennis & Education
Project Leader:
Danice Brown
Executive Director
Portland, OR United States

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