New York (February 13) – Serve & Connect, a community engagement program connecting police and children in a safe and fun tennis setting, returns on February 24 for the second season for three months at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in Crotona Park.
Serve & Connect will be held Saturdays at the Cary Leeds Center, which is within walking distance of 30,000 school children, from 4 – 7 pm from February 24 through May 19. The program provides on-court tennis, off-court mentorship, and a warm meal for all participants.
Designed by New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) with partner USTA Foundation, Serve & Connect, formerly known as Volley Against Violence, is designed to improve perceptions and relationships among youth, police, and residents.
“Through comprehensive and positive youth engagement strategies such as Serve & Connect, NYJTL builds character in under-resourced youth living in the most challenging neighborhoods in New York City,” said George Guimaraes, NYJTL CEO.
Local NYPD Precinct 42 has fully embraced the program, and under the watchful eye of Deputy Inspector, Ernest Morales III, Precinct 42 provides police officers on a volunteer basis.
“We have 12 weeks to build a long lasting relationship between officers and kids all while providing them a safe haven and teaching them tennis,” said D.I. Morales. “These are life lessons that can make a real difference.”
Serve & Connect originated in Boston conceived by Sportsmen’s Tennis Enrichment in 2009. Based on the acceptance of the program in the communities, the USTA Foundation has expanded to eight programs this year, including Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center and NYJTL.
“The USTA Foundation is committed to the youth participants from our hundreds of NJTL programs throughout the country and teaching them the importance of developing into model citizens and is proud to launch the Serve & Connect initiative,” said Dan Faber, Executive Director, USTA Foundation.
NYJTL launched “Grow with the Game” in 2017 investing significant funding to introduce its Intensive Training Program and to expand its pathway program from Community Tennis and Afterschool programs to its highest level of training in the Advanced Training Program (also known as NYJTL Tournament Team). In addition to expanding its on-court offerings, NYJTL utilized the Cary Leeds Center to offer a 10-week Princeton Review SAT Preparatory class for high school juniors which began earlier this month.
Media are welcome to attend the Serve & Connect classes. The Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning is located at 1720 Crotona Avenue, Bronx, NY, 10457.
About New York Junior Tennis & Learning
The mission of New York Junior Tennis & Learning is to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court. Since 1971, NYJTL has changed lives through tennis, education, healthy living, and character development programs. Today, it is the largest youth tennis and education non-profit in the nation, reaching 75,000 K-12 New York City youth.
In June 2015, the $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning opened its doors as the flagship home of NYJTL in the heart of the South Bronx. In April 2017, the Center completed its final phase of construction and opened the Pershing Square Stadium, the Victor Kiam Stadium, and the Dalia and Larry Leeds Viewing Bridge. The Cary Leeds Center provides more than 6,000 hours of free tennis court time annually to the community’s under-resourced youth.
NYJTL celebrates the diversity of the children who participate in every program, providing 3,000,000 hours of year-round programming that serves youth from all five boroughs. All NYJTL Community Tennis and Afterschool programs are offered at no cost to its participants.