How This Atlanta Youth Sports Program is Lifting Up Low Income Families Through Tennis

By Melissa Wickes
February 23, 2024
2 min

The incredible thing about youth sports is that they are so much more than just the game—they give kids access to important resources like academics, community, character development, career opportunities, and more. That’s exactly what the Atlanta Youth Tennis and Education Foundation (AYTEF) strives to do for the communities it serves.

AYTEF is a National Junior Tennis and Learning Association of the United States Tennis Association. What that means is it’s an organization that uses tennis to teach kids about life, connect them to academics, and teach kids to be successful. This mission is exactly why LeagueApps partners with AYTEF through our FundPlay program.

AYTEF is located within a five mile radius of about eight Title One schools. To get as many students involved in tennis as possible, they offer free and low cost programming, with even lower costs offered to students in free and reduced lunch programs. The goal is removing barriers to the sport to give families and youth as much support, both on and off the court, as possible, says Debbie Kennedy, executive director of AYTEF.

Currently, AYTEF offers year-round programming as well as a large community event once a month with free tennis, pizza, games, and more for families. During AYTEF programs, kids can expect to play tennis and engage in academic enrichment activities in STEM and coding.

The organization is largely volunteer driven—with only two full time employees. Volunteers are mainly high school tennis players and college tennis players.

Why AYTEF Uses LeagueApps

With LeagueApps’ free software grant as part of our FundPlay program, AYTEF is able to use our registration features to sign kids up for programs and keep track of attendance. Prior to using LeagueApps, Debbie explains, they kept track of operations using files and files in drawers and often didn’t know who was even signed up for programming. The transition to LeagueApps allowed them to get a lot of the organization’s processes under control and has since been “a huge game-changer,” says Debbie.

Another huge use of LeagueApps for AYTEF is the ability to collect demographic information from every registrant, Debbie explains. When the organization is writing grants, a lot of specific information is needed about the population AYTEF is serving—like race, family income, primary language spoken at home, ethnicity, etc. LeagueApps allows AYTEF to customize all of those questions so the information is collected immediately at registration.

“All of those things I immediately can pull from LeagueApps and that is what I’m putting in all of my grants,” says Debbie. “It has made my grant writing far easier and far more accurate.”

One of AYTEF’s greatest challenges presently is staffing. The interest in their programming is there, but they need more qualified volunteers and staff members to make the programs great and to give students the support they need. If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved with AYTEF, click here. 

For more information about FundPlay—the LeagueApps initiative providing technology, training, and support to sports-based youth development programs across the country—click here.