We train athletes in The Grassroot Project's sports-based HIV prevention curriculum. The athletes then split into groups and roll out programs with middle school students across the city, one day a week for 1.5 hours per session. They work with the kids for an entire semester, each week addressing a new topic from our curriculum. At the end of the program, ALL the kids and athletes from all of our sites come together for a graduation celebration, where the kids give speeches and get to facilitate the games they've learned as part of the program.
In January 2009, the Grassroot Project pilot began, with the establishment of Grassroot Hoyas, a team of 40 Georgetown University and local high school athletes trained as “Coaches” to deliver an adaptation of Grassroot Soccer’s activities-based HIV prevention curriculum to at-risk, local middle school youth. Through a 25-hour Athletes2Coaches training course, participants learned how to deliver the HIV prevention and life skills curriculum with youth, while gaining additional skills in program management and monitoring and evaluation. Following this training, Grassroot Hoyas members began four nine-week interventions with middle-school youth through schools and other community outreach programs.
In August 2009, we became one of the first 501c3 organizations to be designed, initiated, and managed by NCAA student-athletes.
In September 2009, we added a program out of George Washington University called "Grassroot Colonials," and in January 2010 we added "Grassroot Bison" when athletes from Howard University joined our team. We established formal partnerships with the DC Public School System, several charter schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and now we work together to run our sports-based HIV/AIDS education program at 23 sites across the city.
Last year, we came up with an idea to match our students with students in a similar program (GrassrootSoccer) in South Africa, as penpals. We launched Team Up (www.2010teamup.blogpost.com), and brought the penpals together for a leadership development camp at the 2010 World Cup.
Our goal is to scale up our programs so that all youth in Washington DC have access to life-saving information about HIV/AIDS and positive role models to support them in making healthy decisions.
We plan to continue to partner with Universities, middle schools, and other community organizations to continue to grow our programing. As college athletes, teamwork is what we know best.
We are also focusing on results. Even though we can see the impact every day we work with the kids, we are working on an innovative system of monitoring and evaluation, so that we can see our progress at every level of our theory of change.
We won't stop until we've DOne SOMETHING big. We want HIV/AIDS to come to an end, and we believe that an HIV-free generation is in the power of our youth.