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WHO WE ARE The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) is a premier educational and tennis organization for underserved children, providing the best quality instruction, resources, and mentorship to build life champions. We work to give underserved kids a safe environment they trust and where they can excel. We empower our students to achieve their highest potential by developing meaningful values and critical life skills that will lead them to success. WTEF’s mission is to keep children off city streets and engage them in productive activities that instill self-pride and discipline. We help underprivileged children improve their academic performance and make choices that enrich, rather than endanger, their lives. We also provide opportunities for children to obtain academic and athletic scholarships for college. For those not college bound, WTEF offers assistance in joining the work force and making constructive life choices.





THE NEEDS WE ADDRESS The WTEF programs provide underserved children and youth a constructive way to spend after-school hours. The need for such intervention is striking. High rates of poverty, drug markets that invade schools and parks, crime rates that are among the nation’s worst and lack of adult supervision are just some of the problems children face in the neighborhoods WTEF serves. 52% of eighth graders in DC Public Schools score below basic achievement levels in math; 49% score below basic achievement levels in reading. DC Public School students have only a 58% graduation rate. DC has the widest racial achievement gaps of all large urban school

Students who spend even one to four hours per week in extracurricular

systems in the country.

activities are 60% less likely to drop out of school by the 12th grade, as compared with their counterparts who do not participate.

Kids routinely left home alone are 50% more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

30 minutes to one hour of exercise a day for children shows benefits such as improved cardio rates, balance, mobility, strength and overall

Teens who do not participate in after-school programs are nearly three


times more likely to skip classes than teens who do. Skipping class increases a teen’s risk of falling victim to predatory gang violence,

Studies show that after-school programs can meet students’ needs that

quasi-illiteracy, and other social pathologies.

schools often cannot, including personal attention from adults, a positive peer group, and activities to hold their interest.

The obesity rate for Washington, DC youth (ages 10-17) is an alarming 35%.

There is a positive correlation between sports participation and youths’ academic performance, increased life satisfaction, higher self-esteem

Effective after-school programs can counteract these disturbing trends. After-

and self-control.

school programs reduce juvenile crime and violence and other risky behaviors by providing alternative environments and activities from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm, the

Research shows that the character values of resilience, grit,

prime time for juvenile crime.

perseverance, optimism and conscientiousness, which WTEF teaches children through its tennis and education programs are key to children’s success.







The Center for Excellence (CFE) is an intensive year-round academic and

The Arthur Ashe Children’s Program (AACP) serves children in second

athletic program for students in the first through 12th grades, which meets each

through eighth grades, in their communities at 24 DC Public Schools—16

weekday during the academic year for four hours after school. The CFE offers

elementary and eight middle schools—in Northeast and Southeast DC. Founded

students age-appropriate academic programs, mentoring and counseling, along

in 1992, the AACP provides an effective after-school program, combining

with life skills training, tennis instruction and tennis competition. For older teens,

academics, tennis and life skills activities to help at-risk DC youth. The AACP

the CFE helps students prepare to take standardized tests, including the SAT.

is held from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm four days a week, and operates in tandem with

We also provide guidance on the application process for students considering

the school calendar, from early September through mid-June. The curriculum

college. On the weekends, from 10:00 am-5:00 pm, the CFE students have

is competition-based. Students learn and practice academic and tennis skills,

access to individual tennis and academic instruction, free court time and

as well as general life skills, and then meet with other AACP school teams for

mentoring programs. During the summer, the CFE meets five days a week

three special competitions each year—the Academic Competition, Life Skills

from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. The program has produced stunning results: For 14

Competition (student written and produced skits on a given topic) and Tennis

consecutive years, 100% of CFE seniors have gained admission to college

Championships. External studies have proven that children in the AACP

on academic or athletic scholarships or with financial aid packages. Most

have significantly higher school promotion rates and significantly lower

of our children had never visited a college campus until they took field trips with

absence rates than students in the general school population. In 2008, the

WTEF. Our graduates have been admitted to such renowned institutions as

DC Public Schools imposed an intense new vetting process on all after school

Morehouse, Princeton, Vanderbilt, and Williams.

programs. Nearly 800 programs applied for permission to operate in the schools. Due to the AACP’s past success and WTEF’s strong reputation, the DCPS asked


WTEF to continue running programs in all its current schools, and to expand the AACP to several new locations.

WTEF has designed new programs that reach the youngest of children (ages 2-5) who will ultimately matriculate to WTEF’s AACP and CFE programs. Partnerships have already been established with Ward 7 preschools and day care programs. In addition, The SEED Public Charter School, located behind the new facility, has partnered with WTEF to provide physical education programs for its students. WTEF will offer programs for adults and seniors and coaching assistance for high school tennis teams. WTEF will continue working to develop additional programs that best meet the community’s needs.





BUILDING LIFE CHAMPIONS WTEF programs also operate from a values perspective. Early in its organizational history, WTEF recognized the importance of teaching solid values to help youth on a positive life path. A recent book, How Children Succeed 1, has focused attention on character values and on the non-cognitive abilities that children need to succeed in school and in life. The character values the author emphasizes are very akin to the values WTEF has used for years with kids. The author cites research that shows such values are key to children’s success and, moreover, the values can be encouraged and taught. The book cites:

RESILIENCE The ability to recover from failure or hardship. WTEF’s tennis programs and academic competitions teach kids how to confront and recover from failure, lessons that translate into classroom and life lessons as well.

GRIT achieving it. WTEF’s CFE program emphasizes this commitment to kids, encouraging them to set sights on higher education, helping them with a careful college prep program, and teaching children to see the task through. WTEF’s track record on this is impressive. For 14 consecutive years, 100% of CFE graduating seniors went on to college with academic or athletic scholarships.

programs, children experience success and learn an optimistic outlook and “can-do” attidtude. This develops through playing tennis and through the classroom experience.

Conscientiousness Doing the right thing as a matter of course, acting virtuously. This is an indirect value accruing from WTEF’s specific program activities. For example, the CFE Ladies of Promise teen girl counseling program teaches girls how to confront the challenges that young women face in today’s society. The program emphasizes positive values, high self-esteem and making good choices. WTEF teaches good sportsmanship in its tennis lessons, where conscientiousness becomes second nature. This is a life lesson well learned on the court.

A 2008 book, Spark!, by Dr. John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman1, describes a growing body of research by neuroscientists that shows that exercise stimulates beneficial brain chemistry and interactions that enable those who exercise to learn better. Students who have higher fitness scores also have higher test scores, according to studies that the authors cite. The authors state that “exercise influences learning directly, at the cellular level...”. Exercise that is most beneficial combines aerobic activity with skill


acquisition. Tennis is an ideal sport that provides these benefits. WTEF

WTEF programs encourage children to stick with their goals and improve

mental benefits. Children play tennis at least 5 times a week for 90 minutes,

their grades, a lesson critical to later success in life. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.


The ability to bounce back, essential to making it to graduation day. In WTEF


A passionate commitment to a mission and unswerving dedication to




tennis and education programs for kids provide both physical fitness and benefitting their bodies and minds.


London: Quercus, 2008.



OUR NEW CENTER For the last 20 years, WTEF’s vision has been to broaden our reach and impact the lives of DC children in need. In order to achieve this, WTEF has built a new Tennis, Education and Community Center located in Ward 7, right in the heart of the neighborhood where these children live and go to school.

The new site includes: Six indoor courts and nine outdoor hard courts. WTEF will utilize smaller-dimensioned USTA QuickStart courts to provide a way to introduce tennis to youth ages 3-10, by utilizing special equipment and

an auditorium or multi-purpose room. A fitness room with mats, exercise equipment and scales to monitor

scoring that is tailored to their age and size.


Three classrooms and a large computer room.

Offices for staff members, including administration, education, and

A reception area and desk for check-in, small lounge area, and a storage area where students may keep their gear and books.


A 1,500 square foot community room with open floor plan to be used as


program staff, plus a staff lounge. A state-of-the art security system, which includes cameras, key-card access and gated outdoor courts.



This state-of-the-art $10 million facility will offer increased opportunities for a dramatic change in the lives of underserved children. WTEF will: Serve more students: Over time, WTEF will serve twice as many students at the new facility through after-school and summer programming. In particular, the Center for Excellence will double its enrollment, while participation in the Arthur Ashe Children’s Program will increase by nearly 50%. The new facility will permit WTEF to reach younger children, ages 3 to 5, and offer services during times when other year-round programs are not open to this age group.

Increase retention rates: Through active community engagement, WTEF will be able to attract and retain more young people and to extend critical mentoring and support during their most at-risk years by offering a safe haven right in their own neighborhood. Extend operating hours: With extended after-school and weekend hours, students will have increased access to mentors, computer labs and parent/child programs. By offering programs year round, the new facility will be able to provide additional structure and support all weekend, all winter and all day during the summer months. Provide leadership opportunities: WTEF seeks to develop well-rounded and engaged citizens through an active focus on values and leadership. Students who excel during the school year will have the opportunity to work for WTEF and coach younger students during the summer months, providing employment and instilling a sense of community responsibility in the younger generation. Serve as a community center: The location has the potential to become a gathering place for the neighborhood, encouraging greater parent participation, increasing staff/family dialogue, engaging families in program planning and providing meeting space for community needs. It will enable WTEF to offer programming and meeting space for adults and seniors, and coaching assistance for high school tennis teams. WTEF will continue working to develop additional programs that best meet the community’s needs.





HONORS & AWARDS May 2008, WTEF was named The Washington Post Award Winner for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. The award was made in recognition


of WTEF’s programs and its “outstanding board involvement, diversified fundraising practices, effective use of employees and volunteers and sound financial management practices.” I first joined the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation when I was four years old. Now that I

October 2009, Executive Director Eleni Rossides won the EXCEL

am in my final year of college, that seems like a really long time ago! Growing up in my neighbor-

Leadership Award, recognizing and honoring outstanding nonprofit leaders.

hood in Southeast DC was never easy. Drugs, crime, and violence were pervasive. Lucky for me,

Candidates must show excellence in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership. January 2011, WTEF received the 2010 USTA Community Tennis

WTEF programs were available and helped to change and save my life! I started playing tennis in WTEF’s Arthur Ashe Children’s Program when I was in elementary school and loved it so much, I continued in the Center for Excellence through middle and high school. Every day after school there was always someone there from WTEF to make me feel

Association of the Year Award in recognition that WTEF is a “leader in

secure and valued, especially Willis Thomas, who was my coach and role model. It was a safe

providing academic enrichment, supplemented by tennis and life skills

place to go after school, and a place where I gained confidence and self respect. Tennis truly kept

instruction” to help underserved youth develop skills necessary for academic and personal success. August 2011, WTEF went through the second three-year vetting process by

me off the streets and away from trouble. It shaped who I was at an early age. I can say without hesitation that WTEF has changed my life. WTEF showed me the possibilities that life has to offer. The summer trips took me to a new college campus each year. I grew up knowing that I would go to college, and today I am the first person in my family to attend college.

the DC Public Schools—the first was in 2008—as they extend their oversight to after-school programming. In this process, competing against hundreds of other programs operating in DC Public Schools, the AACP was approved again with high marks. April 2012, WTEF was chosen for the selective DC Catalogue for

WTEF provides outstanding programs that give kids like me a chance in life. With the help of WTEF, not only did I graduate in three years from DC’s notoriously dangerous Ballou High School as Valedictorian, but I won the DC Interhigh Tennis Championship twice, and received an academic scholarship to attend the University of Arizona as well. It would have been very easy for me to turn out like some of my classmates and drop out of school or get involved with the wrong people. Many of the people I started high school with were not on stage with me at graduation.

Philanthropy. Selection was based on distinction, merit, cost-effectiveness and accomplishments. Catalogue reviewers and staff stated that WTEF “is one of the finest smaller charities Greater Washington has to offer.”



I know WTEF will continue to touch the lives of many children here in Washington. I am confident we will not only have a new generation of Washington tennis greats, but a new generation of true leaders rising from some of DC’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Thank you so much, WTEF!




RICHARD’S STORY When I was six and living in dangerous Southeast DC, the public tennis courts were close to

I joined WTEF when I was four years old. I lived in a neighborhood that was filled with sorrow.

my home. Every day, Coach Willis played tennis with the neighborhood kids. We loved those

Drugs, crime and violence were everywhere, and the culture was hostile to education.

courts—they were our haven from the older kids who were vandalizing the area and doing drugs. WTEF sent us to tournaments around the country where we visited colleges, too. When I was

Lucky for me, WTEF programs were there to literally save my life! The tennis courts were across

14, I was ranked #13 in the Mid-Atlantic Region. But when I entered the 7th grade, everything

the street from my house, and WTEF was always there, especially Willis Thomas, who was a

changed. The tennis courts were demolished, and without Coach Willis’ positive influence, I

role model and father figure to me. It was a safe place to go, and one where I gained confidence

strayed from the path to high school and college that WTEF had helped me envision for myself.

and self-respect. Tennis kept me off the streets and away from trouble. It shaped who I was at an

Coach Willis tried to get me on the bus to the WTEF tennis center in Northwest with the other

early age.

kids. I remember looking at him with tears in my eyes and saying I just couldn’t do it. The bullies threatened me with harm if I did, and I was terrified for my safety. Then I fell in with the wrong

When I was 13, I witnessed a serious crime and my life was threatened by neighborhood gang

crowd, and soon my life began to unravel.

members. Terrified, I became a recluse in my own community. It was my WTEF family who found a way to protect me: a WTEF sponsor enabled me to attend private boarding school. Without

I am happy to see Kevin, my WTEF doubles partner, succeeding in law school. WTEF gave

her, I might not have made it out of Southeast alive. WTEF opened up many horizons for me;

us both—and many other children—the chance for a good life. But I stayed in trouble, didn’t

they gave me an education and helped me travel to tennis tournaments where I saw parts of the

graduate from high school, and landed in a juvenile facility. It was sheer luck that I did not go to

country I never imagined, and colleges I never dreamed of attending. I played against the best

jail. One morning, I did not skip class as I often did. I later heard gun shots outside the classroom,

players in the country and proved that I belonged. I was the first person in my family to attend and

and learned that two of my friends had shot and killed a man. One is in jail for life; the other got

graduate college and I am now attending law school.

20 years. That could have been me. Today, I’d like to think my life has come full-circle. I earned my GED, and fortunately, WTEF never gave up on me. I am now working as a tennis coach at WTEF’s new facility in the programs that shaped much of my childhood and gave me hope.









200 Stoddert Place, SE Washington, DC 20019 (202) 575 - 0808

16th & Kennedy Streets, NW Washington, DC 20011 (202) 291 - 9888





WTEF Brochure  

This was a brochure that I designed for the Washington Education & Tennis Foundation.

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