The potential for athletic achievement to inspire children to succeed in all areas of life is something the Heisman Trust bears witness to every day through its involvement in various sports-themed philanthropic organizations.
One such organization is Streetsquash.
In the late 1990s, George Polksy was an NYU graduate student in social work who wanted to do his part to ensure underserved kids got a quality education. He was also a squash player as a Harvard undergraduate. Though squash has traditionally been the preserve of the upper class at boarding schools and country clubs, he saw the sport as a way to connect with those he was trying to help.
So Polsky started Streetsquash in 1999. A comprehensive youth enrichment program based in Harlem, StreetSquash combines academic tutoring, squash instruction, community service, college preparation, leadership development, and mentoring for young people ages 11-24.
The four-days-per-week time commitment is not easy. Though Saturday is reserved for squash, there are two days of homework and squash and one day of literacy education or SAT prep.
Make no mistake about it: While squash is the hook to get kids to participate, “the real goal is to make sure these kids get a good education,” Polksy told the New York Daily News in 2012.
Streetsquash has grown rapidly since its founding.What began as an after-school program with 24 middle school students and two staff members has expanded to serve nearly 300 participants from 6th grade through college graduation and entry into the workforce. For the first nine years, StreetSquash ran programs all over New York City. Then, in November 2008, StreetSquash opened a permanent home at the SL Green StreetSquash Center with 8 ASB squash courts, four classrooms, a library, and the organization’s administrative offices.
The Heisman Trust is a proud supporter of StreetSquash’s mission, which is to provide consistent, long-term and reliable support to the children, families and schools in Harlem. By exposing these children to a broad range of experiences and by maintaining the highest standards, StreetSquash aims to help each child realize his or her academic and personal potential.
To donate to Streetsquash, click here.