Off the Sideline extends footprint and spends more in scholarships in 2019
A message from Executive Director Leslie Mestman
I founded Off the Sideline in 2015 because I believe that all kids, regardless of their background, deserve to have access to the social and health benefits of playing team sports.
Since we awarded our first scholarship in February 2016, we’ve provided the opportunity for more than 420 Oregon kids in grades five through nine to participate in the sports that work for them in their community in the same programs as their peers instead of relying on what is free.
We’re able to close this opportunity gap by working with community partners to create an easy application process that makes sure our financial support goes where it’s needed most. Since working with our first partner, Volunteers of America, our community partner list has grown to nearly 20 social-service agencies. In 2019, we were able to increase our footprint beyond the Portland metropolitan area to help youth in the Willamette Valley, Oregon Coast and Central Oregon. During the upcoming year we look forward to accomplishing even more.
Across the state we’ve seen the significant increases in the cost of sports fees, and our scholarship costs reflect that change. Our 2019 average annual scholarship was $243, a big jump from an annual average of $117 in 2017.
And while we received our largest ever single grant from Care Oregon last year – as well as grants and sponsorships
from adidas, Heritage Bank, NW Natural, MAC Foundation, Trail Blazers Foundation and the Petrick Charitable Fund – we also rely heavily on individual donors to help us continue to build healthier kids and communities.
I like to say that participation in team sports is the most cost-effective early-intervention program for marginalized kids. And because we're a 100 percent volunteer organization, Off the Sideline ensures that most of the money we receive goes directly to scholarships.
Here's how you can help us in 2020:
- Buy tickets and attend our annual fundraiser, Level the Playing Field, on March 5, 2020. This year's event will be held on the beautiful Skyview Bridge at Portland's World Trade Center. For only $30, we supply appetizers, beverages and access to some amazing auction items. Our featured guests will share their experiences and stories about youth sports in Oregon communities.
- Contact us to volunteer. In addition to assistance during community events throughout the year, we are seeking volunteers to help out at our March 5 fundraiser.
- Donate. Your tax-exempt contribution builds confidence, leadership and healthy habits that will last a lifetime for Oregon youth.
We look forward to a successful 2020, and seeing you at our event on March 5!