US Squash has announced MetroSquash in Chicago as the fifth facility to be accredited as an official US Squash Community Affiliate. Metrosquash joins as the second Regional level Community Affiliate – the highest tier – as more facilities prioritize broader access to squash with the support and encouragement of US Squash.
MetroSquash was founded in 2005 as an out-of-school time program for Chicago Public School students. The first MetroSquash class consisted of ten students in fifth grade, using squash courts and classroom space at the University of Chicago. Each year, MetroSquash added a grade level to realize a pathway of service from 5th grade through post-secondary completion. In 2015, the organization successfully raised over $8 million to construct a permanent home – The Hussain MetroSquash Center in Woodlawn.
The center allowed MetroSquash to double the number of students served, and the program now serves over 400 students and their families each year. In Fall 2018, MetroSquash opened a second location in Evanston to serve students just north of Chicago where they utilize academic and court space at the McGaw YMCA to offer programming for forty 6th-8th graders. MetroSquash’s long-term plan includes building a center in Evanston in addition to launching programming on Chicago’s West Side.
“We’ve always been about creating access to the game and using it as a vehicle to expand opportunity,” said David Kay, MetroSquash CEO. “Being a part of the Community Affiliate Network and working with US Squash allows us to amplify everything we do. A good deal of our programs naturally have a community engagement element, but we don’t maximize what we could do with our Woodlawn center and programming in Evanston. We want more programming, extended hours, and greater utilization of weekends and summer. We want to increase access to allow more people from the community to interact with us at the center. That’s going to support our core mission, which is to serve Chicago youth. The more the community knows about us, and the more the community feels welcome in our facilities, that’s going to make so many more youth want to come and have a life-changing experience through MetroSquash programming and the sport of squash.”
In joining the Community Affiliate Network, MetroSquash will implement expanded programs for students from local schools in the Woodlawn community in addition to expanding student access to their core after-school programs. MetroSquash is set to resume outdoor and in-person programming in April with sights set on increased engagement and recruitment over the summer, and full programming in the fall.
“US Squash and the entire Community Affiliate Network are excited to work alongside the talented staff at MetroSquash as we address access and equity with the leaders on the ground in Chicago,” said Barrett Takesian, US Squash Senior Advisor for Community Programs.
The Community Affiliate Network model will shape future MetroSquash programs to expand the sport to new locations in the Chicago area such as Evanston and the West Side.
“Community squash is critical to the sport.” Kay said. “We’re excited for the Community Affiliate Network benefits and having a closer partnership with US Squash. It’s a breath of fresh air to see US Squash really focusing and going all in on access, and for us to be part of advancing that mission really gets us excited. Thanks to initiatives like the Community Affiliate Network and Arlen Specter US Squash Center, squash in the U.S. is on the ascendancy. So count us in, we’re along for the ride!”
As a Community Affiliate, MetroSquash joins Portland Community Squash in Maine, Atlanta Community Squash, Access Youth Academy in San Diego, Urban Squash Cleveland and the soon-to-be-opened Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia. As the second Regional tier Community Affiliate, Metrosquash follows Access Youth Academy which will open the doors to its new facility later this year.
No matter where you play your squash – outdoor courts, universities, independent schools, SEA facilities, community centers, or commercial courts - if you have a non-profit element and are committed to building an inclusive community, learn more about joining the Community Affiliate Network.