University City: Building Champions of Character

Nancy Peter
Nancy Peter, co-founder of the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative (PYSC)

The Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative – established in 2009 – is a collaborative of member organizations, which provide support for non-traditional youth sports-based programs in the city. The organizations offer physical development and life skills though sports such as cycling, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, riding, rowing, running, soccer, squash, and tennis.

PYSC’s mission is to promote collaboration between area youth sports organizations and strengthen the services they provide to children.

Some of the member organizations include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund, Kensington Soccer Club, and Philadelphia City Rowing, to name a few.

We spoke with Nancy Peter, the co-founder of PYSC as well as the founder and director of the Out-of-School Time Resource Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

How did PYSC get started?

Rule of Thirds
PYSC member organizations include the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

About four and half years ago, I was approached by a woman named Wendy Palmer. She had this idea for gathering and finding a way to coordinate and connect different sports-based youth development programs. We started meeting with a couple of the better known sports programs in Philadelphia and over the years, we developed PYSC. It currently has 33 members and is the only collaborative of its kind in the country made up of free-standing independent organizations.

Can you talk a little bit about the Sports for Juvenile Justice partnership with the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University and how that came about?

Absolutely. We were approached maybe two and a half years ago by Robert Reed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He wanted to know what we could do to work with kids in the juvenile justice system before they go down the path of continued involvement in crime. So he was really interested in sports and positive youth development as a way to decrease recidivism. Our connection to Temple and Aubrey Kent is that he does a lot of work in measuring the impact of youth sports programs. He has been working with us for the last year to look at the short term and long term impact of SJJ. And, ultimately, to see whether it does cultivate youth development outcomes and whether or not it truly reduces recidivism.

PYSC is the only collaborative of its kind in the United States

Can you tell us about some of the special projects that PYSC and their partners have worked on?

Probably the most significant is SJJ but we’ve also worked for several years with Drexel University on a project called Mantua In Action. That is a partnership between Drexel, PYSC and Parks and Recreation. It’s on hiatus right now but that was a pilot to bring multiple sports to the Mantua section of the city. It was a great way to get kids exposed to sports that they might not normally get involved in. So that was really exciting.

We are working with three different funders right now – The Horner Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation and the Vincera Foundation. They have helped to fund a series of professional workshops for people that work in youth sports. So we have this really robust series of professional development opportunities.

How can people get involved with and learn more about PYSC?

Nancy at Her Desk
Membership in PYSC is free and anyone can participate

Membership in PYSC is free. Anyone can be a member of PYSC and be eligible to participate. There are four criteria for PYSC and the member application is on our website. The program has to use sports as positive youth development. The program has to be a 501C3 or affiliated with a non-profit. The program has to work either primarily or significantly with under-served, under-resourced populations. And programs have to work with kids from multiple neighborhoods.

Finally, what is your favorite success story pertaining to the children involved in the program?

One of my favorites – because I’m a horseback rider – is Work to Ride. It is the only African American Youth Polo team in the country and they are two-time champions. Of all of them, that’s probably my favorite. When you hear these kids talk about what it meant to them to go to Work to Ride, work with the horses and compete nationally and get that recognition, it’s just phenomenal.

– Text and images by Michelle Kapusta and Stephen Pileggi

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