Two JLCU Sustainers, Danielle Wilberg and Ryann Monahan, have been involved with the start and continued growth of a newer non-profit to the Champaign-Urbana, PROJECT ATHLETES.
WHAT IS PROJECT ATHLETES?
PROJECT ATHLETES is an elite athletic training and mentoring program for middle school and high school students during their off season. Athletic coaches play an important role in the lives of teens regarding character development, academic achievement and athletic success, and PROJECT ATHLETES has taken those key influences and provided an easily adoptable program for schools and organizations who are working to keep kids on the right path. Their training is not sport specific; they train on overall athleticism, including with some participants who have never participated in an active lifestyle previously.
PROJECT ATHLETES was founded by Ryann and Mark Germano during their work together at the Stephen’s Family YMCA. From there, they began to also start working with Danielle to turn PROJECT ATHLETES into a scalable program that could be adopted by schools, community organizations, and any other entity that works with youth. PROJECT ATHLETES started its first pilot at the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club over the summer and today operates at five locations in the C-U area with more prospective locations in the wings.
WHERE IS PROJECT ATHLETES IN CHAMPAIGN-URBANA?
As of January 2017, PROJECT ATHLETES still continues to operate at the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club, in addition to Urbana High School, Urbana Middle School, Franklin Middle School, and Jefferson Middle School. Twenty to thirty teens are served every session, two times per week. Ability to access this program is very important, and therefore, PROJECT ATHLETES is provided for free to all athletes who want additional training. PROJECT ATHLETES is also able to provide a grant with the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) scouting firm’s Athlehleadership Grant program. This allows the athletes an opportunity to be scouted outside of the travel/club team norms.
HOW CAN JLCU AND OTHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS HELP PROJECT ATHLETES MEET THEIR MISSION?
JLCU and other community members can help PROJECT ATHLETES continue to meet the needs of their athletes is a variety of ways. PROJECT ATHLETES is always in need of athletic shoes for their athletes, especially boys sizes 10-12. Funds are also appreciated to keep the nonprofit operational. Lastly, volunteers are also needed to help at current locations. Contact PROJECT ATHLETES via their website to get involved!
HOW DID INVOLVEMENT WITH JLCU PREPARE THEM TO START AND MANAGE PROJECT ATHLETES?
Danielle shares these three main ways that serving JLCU for many years prepared them for this new venture together:
- During our time in JLCU, we have worked together for almost a decade. Together we have always been a dynamic team and without JLCU we wouldn’t have this incredible partnership built on trust and respect for each other’s working style.
- Our knowledge of how to actually govern a non-profit came from our experience on the Board of JLCU. Understanding our fiduciary responsibility, operational requirements, fundraising obligations, and IRS filings came from running JLCU.
- Volunteer management is definitely a skill we obtained through JLCU. Getting work done with volunteers is a unique skill that is sometimes overlooked as a benefit of JLCU – but when running a non-profit it is invaluable.