What is squash?
Founded in England in the 1860′s, squash is an indoor racket sport played by more than 15 million people in 153 countries. In the United States, squash was until recently played almost exclusively at prep schools, elite colleges, and exclusive clubs. The sport has become more widely played over the past few decades – in part because of urban squash – though its strong ties to top-tier educational institutions are one of the reasons squash is an effective after-school program “hook.”

What is urban squash?
Urban squash is a youth development model that combines the sport of squash with academics, mentoring, community service, and college placement for public school students in under-served communities. Its intensive, year-round programming, which takes place after school, on the weekends and in the summer, engages students from the time they try out in elementary or middle school until they graduate from college. Following an ‘inch wide, mile deep’ approach to youth development, urban squash programs strive to have a transformative impact on the lives of their participants. The first urban squash program, SquashBusters, was launched in Boston in 1996.

How do children join your member programs?
Typically, our member programs are partnered with one or more public schools, and each fall, the programs recruit students from their partner schools to participate in tryouts. The student selection process varies among programs, but in most cases students try out in fifth, sixth or seventh grade. Because of the popularity of our programs, the selection process is often highly competitive, giving programs the opportunity to select the most dedicated, hardworking students.

Is NUSEA the same 501(c)(3) organization as its member programs?
No, NUSEA is not the same organization as our member programs. Our member programs are independent entities, with their own charters, names, boards, and finances. In order to become members of NUSEA, programs have to apply for membership and meet a strict set of organizational criteria. In order to remain members of NUSEA, programs submit annual reports and need to meet other ongoing membership criteria.

What are the most important things needed to start an urban squash program?
Launching an urban squash program is a considerable undertaking that involves dozens of steps, countless hours of work, and the support of many people. There are five ‘to-dos’ that are most critical. First, find a squash facility (or two) that is willing to host your program five days a week during the school year. Second, identify a public elementary or middle school in an underserved community that is willing to be your program’s partner school, the place from which your program will recruit students. Third, recruit a group of engaged, generous and committed individuals to serve on your Board of Directors. Fourth, raise the funds required to cover your first year’s budget. Fifth, recruit an exemplary Executive Director to lead the organization.

If I am interested in starting an urban squash program, can NUSEA help?
Yes! A central role of NUSEA is to assist those who wish to start new urban squash programs. To learn more about how we can help, contact us at info@squashandeducation.org or 646-218-0456.