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New nonprofit to support athletic programs

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Will Treece

Sports Teaching and Reaching Students (STARS), a new Philadelphia nonprofit, aims to build exceptional athletic programs at low-income schools in the city.

Providing athletic equipment and support is at the top of STARS’ agenda. STARS will also assess athletic needs, manage resources, and track academic progress. High schools can apply for a STARS sponsorship now through October 20.

STARS Executive Director Jake Whitman, a former Philadelphia high school teacher, founded the program on the principle that athletic participation bolsters academic performance.

“I personally observed better attendance, higher grades, more confidence, better discipline, and fewer health problems among my students who participated in sports,” said Whitman in a press release.

High schools interested in a STARS sponsorship can apply until October 20. STARS will interview several high schools before selecting one community – which could include anywhere from one to three high schools – to sponsor. For a school to be eligible to receive a sponsorship, at least 70 percent of students must qualify for free or reduced lunch.

After choosing one community, STARS will then open applications for elementary and middle schools that feed into to the selected high school(s).

“What we’re really looking for are schools that have the capacity to build student participation in athletics, which means a student body with a low percentage that are participating now, but a lot of people in the school who are interested,” Whitman said.

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