The XS Tennis and Education Foundation’s (XSTEF) Mission is to provide Chicago’s under-served youth with an enriching safe-haven and positive academic/athletic pathway to college through a community-based sports and academic enrichment program. XSTEF’s Mission is to introduce as many Chicago youth as possible to XSTEF’s program on the pathway to college, graduate school, and successful futures.With academic enrichment through the University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project, XSTEF is able to provide a positive,enriching environment and program for local youth by combining athletic training and academic improvement. Through its in-school, after school and summer programs, XSTEF currently reaches thousands of youth across numerous under-served Chicago communities, from Roseland to Garfield Park.
XSTEF was born of XS Tennis, a program that started in 2005 on Chicago’s South Side with five minority tennis players. Four of those first five XS players received full scholarships to college, and one went on to a professional tennis career. XS Tennis has since sent more minorities to Division 1 schools with tennis scholarships than any other tennis organization in the nation. XSTennis now serves thousands of players supported by more than twenty tennis professionals, administrative staff, high school counselors and volunteers.In 2008, XS Tennis formed XSTEF in order to reach and support a greater number of Chicago’s under-served urban youth. Through its in-school program, XSTEF brings tennis into ten CPS elementary schools in at-risk communities, introducing a pathway that continues through the XSTEF after school and summer camp programs. XSTEF now impacts the lives of nearly 3,000 students.
XSTEF is in need of a new home. The current location is unable to accommodate the program,which has gone from serving a handful of Chicago Public School (CPS) students to over 2,000 CPS students weekly, and has outgrown the existing 5 court facility. In addition to the space limitations, the buildings lease is expiring and the property itself is up for sale.
In partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, XSTEF has secured land for the XS Tennis Village, a new, 112,000-square-foot athletic and academic enrichment center in the Washington Park neighborhood. Located near areas in urgent need of safe, positive programs the XS Tennis Village will serve athletes, under-served youth, and the local community, from pre-K through adults. The facility will include 12 indoor tennis courts, 15 outdoor tennis courts,a fitness center, running track, training space and classrooms.Building and construction costs are expected to be $9.8 million. It will be built on the former site of the Robert Taylor Homes, a public housing project serving the area from the 1960’s until 2007. The anticipated completion date is Fall 2017.
UDF utilized IL State NMTC to provide loans totaling $7,760,000 for the expansion of XS Tennis and Education Foundation’s current facilities. These loans feature better-than-market rates and terms including an interest rate less than 50% of market rate.
XSTEF is located in a severely distressed census tract, with a 35.9% poverty rate and median income just 38.68% of the benchmark. Unemployment in the area is 18.8% or almost 2.5 times the national average. The project is expected to produce 100 construction jobs, 40 new permanent jobs and annually, 20 summer jobs for teens. XS Tennis plans to offer area residents jobs such as personal trainers, sales and coaches as well as support staff for the center.
When construction is complete, the XS Tennis’investment in CPS will double, increasing the number of participating schools from 10 to 20 and exposing more than 4,000 CPS students to the sport of tennis and the habits of an active and healthy lifestyle using a blend of academic and physical instruction that teaches not only tennis but just as importantly, discipline and resolve.
In addition to being an invaluable resource for Chicago’s urban youth and local community, the new XS Tennis Village will serve hundreds of district, regional and nationally ranked tennis players as they continue on their path to full college scholarships.
Furthermore, XS Tennis looks beyond simply providing opportunities to play tennis in the area.Through its Tennis XSpress program and a partnership with the University of Chicago, the company will continue to provide students in the area with free tutoring, homework assistance,and programs to instill values of teamwork, confidence, and camaraderie, which has been ongoing for several years.
Through its high performance after school tennis program, 100% of XS student-athletes to date have graduated from high school with an average ACT score of 26,100% have earned access to college, and 100% of applicants have received full tennis college scholarships. With the structure and support of athletic college scholarships, students have achieved 100% college persistence and 100% college graduation rates.
XSTEF is committed to serving Chicago’s most under-served communities and to providing jobs and programs for those most in need. As part of its efforts, XSTEF has pledged to provide$800,000 in jobs for CHA residents, as well as $1.8 million in XSTEF academic and sports programming scholarships for CHA youth.
XSTEF will also provide classrooms and space for community youth programs currently without a South Side home, including dance organizations, self-defense/martial arts programs, and local activity groups such as a chess club.
Local high school students will also be able serve their communities and fulfill service obligations through the numerous XS community service and summer camp job opportunities available at the XS Tennis Village.
After School Academic Tutoring and Academic Enrichment in partnership with the University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project offers the following: SAT/ACT prep classes, study rooms with computers and Wi-Fi,monthly workshops with local business and community leaders and enrichment, mentoring and conflict resolution programs on a year-round basis.