We are so thankful for our Athletes for Hope University (AFH U) members and the great work that they all did this past month. To date this year, all of you have already tripled the number of service hours that student-athletes have given back to communities for the first few months of the school year! We are grateful for the incredible work that these teams do to support so many worthy causes.
Did you know? November was Pancreatic Cancer and Prematurity Awareness Month so many of our AFH U student-athletes were out supporting cancer or other childhood health and wellness events. Every month is a different awareness month so let us know if there’s a cause that is important to you so we can connect your team to that work.
The “Planksgiving” Challenge was in full steam with our Power Up! Program sites last month. Student-athletes encouraged kids at the Power Up! Schools to see how many of them could hold a plank for 30 seconds. Find out more about our Power Up! Program here. We are grateful for our partners at Nike for allowing us to continue to expand our work in the physical activity space through the Power Up! Program. Student-Athlete and Team of the Month: We sent out a link
Every month AFH U honors those showing dedication to service. This month, we highlight the Ohio State Cross Country team and Tulane Football’s Robert Kennedy for going above and beyond in their communities.
The Ohio State University Cross Country spent time over the summer with the Boys and Girls Club and volunteered with kids in the program. This fall, they have started doing monthly visits at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and working with Girls on the Run. While they can only do one hospital visit a month due to hospital policies, they jump in and quickly book up as man visits as possible with the kids! They are enthusiastic about giving back to our community.
Robert Kennedy, from Tulane Football, was nominated due to his willingness to serve the New Orleans community. Robert’s most recent service endeavors include our Tulane Athletics Service Day, in which he made Halloween Cards and goodie bags for hospitalized children, playing sports with children at the YMCA, and taking part in a beautification project at Longue Vue House and Gardens. He is always willing to help.
We would not be able to do this incredible work without a base of funders supporting us. We are so thankful to our funders Nike and The Pennington Family Foundation, for enabling us to work in Louisiana communities and beyond. Their support over the last few years has been instrumental in the expansion of the AFH University program to even more sites and allowed AFHU athletes to give back in valuable and enriching ways. Thank you to Nike and Pennington Family Foundation for all you do for AFH U!
A lot goes on behind the scenes at Athletes for Hope to ensure every athlete, team and charity have a fulfilling connection experience. Our teammate on the ground in Louisiana, Kenya Warren-Hollins, is a great example of how all the moving parts of connections can come together. Kenya has worked on the AFH University program for the last 3 years in Baton Rouge connecting students at LSU and Southern University to charitable opportunities in the community. She also works with the incredible organization City Year in Baton Rouge. We sat down with Kenya to ask her why she works with AFH and what motivates her in her career.
“The full cycle of the AFH U program is a rewarding experience. From helping student athletes get excited about service and identifying causes their passionate about, connecting them to local non-profits and schools, to seeing the joy on the faces of the individuals they visit. My favorite thing is the impact it makes on student athletes and the community in which I love. My career is a depiction of my passion for service and expertise in relationship development.”
One of Kenya’s favorite AFH moments was the service that took place in the aftermath of the historic flood in 2016. Student athletes from Southern and LSU mobilized the city of Baton Rouge through service and came together for a great cause. When asked why she enjoys her job Kenya replied, “It excites me to know AFH is truly making a difference and making lasting impacts on the communities we serve. We’re only getting better!”
During the 2017-2018 school year, we saw tremendous progress in our AFH University (AFH U) program due to a significant investment of time and resources in measurement and evaluation, leveraging technology more efficiently, expanding our curriculum, working closely with on-the-ground program managers, and hiring an AFH U National Director to lead this program. While we initiated the process of developing and establishing AFH communities in new markets, we simultaneously worked to deepen relationships with existing universities, community partners and student leaders.
This past year, AFH U facilitated 20 workshops and had over 223 connections with over 1191 college athletes. We saw nearly a 100% increase in the amount of volunteer hours (4,456) that AFH U athletes put towards their charitable involvement, which signifies an increased commitment from AFH U athletes to the community causes they care about.
We also continue to deepen relationships with team leads and liaisons to better understand program needs. We met with various Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) groups to seek input and develop a more robust strategic plan for AFH U. We are excited to build momentum in the 2018-2019 school year as we expand and deepen our program impact at existing universities while we strategically grow AFH U in new communities. For more information on program impact, see infographic below.