Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

March 2021

USA Swimming Distributes Community Impact Grants

USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation recently introduced a new grant program that aims to increase competitive opportunities within USA Swimming clubs. An inaugural class of 12 recipients will each receive $5,000 Community Impact grants, which are renewable annually for up to three years.

Furthering its commitment to making a difference in the community, the USA Swimming Foundation is supporting the grants for clubs to engage in providing programming to underserved communities, support diverse coaches and create more competitive opportunities. Through the grant program, USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation hope not only to grow the pipeline of potential athletes, but also to create more learn-to-swim and competitive opportunities to better include populations that might not otherwise have regular access to the sport.

"The primary goal of this program is to create competitive opportunities in the same way that we have through our learn-to-swim grants," said Joel Shinofield, managing director of sport development for USA Swimming. "Each year the USA Swimming Foundation provides approximately $600,000 in grants to programs that provide free or reduced-cost swim lessons. Our plan is to annually grow the number of grantees each year through to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028, starting with 12 teams in this year's pilot program. The goal is to eventually support these opportunities at the same financial level as our learn-to-swim grants."

The Community Impact grants focus on three areas of support:

  1. Creating partnerships between a USA swimming team and a facility or recreational organization that doesn't currently have a team.
  2. Building partnerships between existing clubs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  3. Supporting programs led by women or economically diverse individuals (SWaM).

The SWaM (Supporting Women and Multiculturally-Led) program grants will to go current program or those starting with a woman or coach of diverse background in a leadership or ownership position. Currently, women and diverse individuals only make up a small percentage of full-time coaches in leadership. By growing the pool of diverse individuals in team leadership, USA Swimming aims to broaden its talent pool of coaches who can develop new and innovative programs in communities across the country.

This year's grant recipients include: Coppin State Aquatic Club in Baltimore, Md.; DART Sacramento in Sacramento, Calif.; DeKalb Aquatics in Snellville, Ga.; Elite Rays Swim Club in Washington, D.C.; Health Lifestyles Healthy Kids in Decatur, Ga.; Metro Atlanta Aquatic Club in Atlanta; M3 Aquatics in Chicago; Coastal Virginia Aquatic Club in Virginia Beach; PDR Swimming for Success in Philadelphia; Race Swami in Salt Lake City, Utah; San Benito Aquatics in San Benito/Hollister, Calif.; and TS Aquatics in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Coastal Virginia Aquatic Club (CVAC) will partner with Norfolk State University, an HBCU in Norfolk, Va., to help further develop programming at the university that will be geared toward students and the local community. "CVAC will provide access to training and help create additional programming," said Dr. Shaun Anderson, USA Swimming's senior adviser for community outreach and engagement. "Working with HBCUs may help create additional opportunities to develop coaches or have students complete their education practicum with a swim team." Plans are under way to add another HBCU program later this year.

Due to challenges with accessing pools during the pandemic, the focus on creating partnerships between clubs and facilities will be introduced in later funding cycles.

USA Swimming will publish application materials and deadlines for the second round of grants later in 2021.

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