The NCAA has unveiled a new initiative designed to call attention to the community service projects taking place throughout the national office.
NCAA Team Works aims to unify all national office staff community service efforts. Whether it’s helping at youth sports clinics or distributing food to the needy, visiting hospitals or cleaning community parks, NCAA Team Works seeks to draw more attention to outreach projects by promoting them as one united effort.
One program that will now fall under the Team Works umbrella is NCAA Community 101, which encourages service-learning projects for young people and provides them an educational platform to impact their communities. Through those programs, the NCAA seeks to assist communities in addressing their local needs through projects that are relevant, long term and meaningful to both volunteers and the people who are being served.
Team Works will focus on projects that involve education, community service and legacy projects in which the effects will benefit the community for years to come.
“We are modeling this after what our membership is doing,” said Victor Hill, NCAA associate director of championships, team works and community programs. “We’ve noticed what athletic departments throughout the membership do to teach student-athletes social responsibility. We know they are doing a good job.”
While the program has a new name, the work is a continuation of years of established community work the NCAA has led. For example, in August, the national office staff hosted a pep rally for third-graders in an Indianapolis township and distributed backpacks containing school supplies. In exchange, the school superintendent asked each of the children to pledge to read 30 books before the 2015 Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis takes place in April. Those who reach the goal of reading at least 30 books will be invited to attend the NCAA Community 101 celebration that takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium the weekend of the Men’s Final Four.
Another area that will fall under NCAA Team Works is a collaboration of the NCAA and the Nancy Lieberman Foundation’s DreamCourts program, which builds high-quality basketball courts in disadvantaged areas. The agreement calls for an outdoor basketball court to be built in the cities that host upcoming Men’s and Women’s Final Fours. In April, a court will be constructed in Indianapolis and another at a Boys and Girls Club in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area.
Last year, more than 11,000 young people signed up to be a part of NCAA Community 101 to participate in service efforts at the Final Four sites in North Texas and Nashville. Collectively, those students logged more than 130,000 community service hours in six months on efforts that included cleanup projects in underprivileged neighborhoods.
“When you consider that there are over 460,000 student-athletes in the NCAA each year, our student-athletes are making tremendous impact on their communities” Hill said. “NCAA Team Works is an extension of that. We want to teach social responsibility to kids at a young age.”