What is under consideration?
Moses Brown and SquashBusters are exploring the feasibility of partnering in the construction of a 12-court squash facility on MB’s campus to serve MB’s athletic and service learning programs and house a new SquashBusters program in Providence.
What is SquashBusters?
SquashBusters is a program that guides low-income urban youth to academic success and college placement through a combination of tutoring, life and study skills coaching, fitness and team-building – all organized around the sport of squash. They have mentored over 640 underprivileged children and achieved a college matriculation rate of 98%. SquashBusters began in Boston more than 20 years ago, and has since spawned an urban squash movement in 16 other cities with 1,500 participants.
Where did the idea for a partnership with MB come from, and when?
SquashBusters has been interested in expanding to Providence for a number of years, and has been in conversation with Moses Brown specifically for the past two because they feel our values and mission are closely aligned with theirs. During this time, MB’s Board of Trustees engaged in in-depth research, including visits to SquashBusters sites, interviews with participating students, financial analysis, and preliminary architectural design.
Why squash courts, why now?
MB has not been actively seeking to build squash courts. However, we feel that SquashBusters’ mission – to nurture and fulfill the potential of urban youth – is closely aligned with ours. Both center on the importance of fostering inner promise, building character and integrity, engaging students in long-term, supportive and challenging programming, and serving the broader community. In other words, we see this as an opportunity both to strengthen our athletic program and advance MB’s mission, serving more children in Providence than we are able to do through enrollment and scholarships.
How does the SquashBusters program work?
SquashBusters works exclusively with public middle and high school students from schools where at least 85% of children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Partnering with exceptional educational institutions (e.g., Phillips Academy, Andover), they provide multi-year support. Specifically, students engage in 90 minutes of squash and 90 minutes of tutoring, three to five days per week, 33 weeks per year, for six or seven years of a student’s life. Participants play in about 30 competitive squash matches and tournaments, do at least two community service projects per year, and undertake rigorous preparation for college (including SAT tutoring, college visits, and ongoing mentoring while in college).
How would Moses Brown and its students benefit?
A squash facility at MB would distinguish the school from peer institutions, expanding competitive and non-competitive squash and adding space for new physical education programs (spinning, yoga, walley-ball, etc.). The proposed partnership would also put MB’s commitment to diversity and civic engagement into action by increasing the number of low-income students MB is able to serve. It offers authentic volunteer opportunities (mentoring, tutoring, coaching) for MB students and staff. It has potential for fostering long-term relationships between MB and SquashBusters students, including the possibility of enrolling SquashBusters students at MB.
Where would the courts be located, and who would pay for them?
Preliminary design suggests there is sufficient room in the vacant lot where Friends Garden is located without impacting Mann Field. SquashBusters would cover ca. 75% of the proposed construction cost, while MB would be responsible for the remainder and for long-term maintenance. MB has already received pledges of significant financial support. We believe that we can complete this project without pulling focus or funding away from other initiatives already underway at MB.
Partnership/Project FACT Summary
Moses Brown would provide land for a 12-court, 16,000 sq. ft. squash facility on its campus (current location being considered is bordered by Hope Street, the MB Hope Street access road, the MB-owned property at 255 Hope Street, and Mann Field – site of the current Friends Garden). The anticipated cost for the new facility includes funding to re-locate the garden.
In addition to 12 squash courts, the facility would include offices for SqashBusters personnel, conference room/meeting space, and locker rooms. MB would provide access to classrooms elsewhere on campus to meet the educational needs of SquashBusters.
Over a five-year period SquashBusters would build a program that would serve 100 students, five days a week, 33 weeks a year (plus a robust summer program). Each day 50 students would be on campus, spending 90 minutes practicing squash and 90 minutes in academic tutoring.
Of the anticipated ca. $6M construction cost, SquashBusters would pay $4.5M and MB $1.5M.
MB would own the building and be responsible for its long-term maintenance. The total project cost includes an additional $1M+ for operating and maintenance endowment, to be secured through joint MB-SquashBusters fundraising from grants, corporate sponsorship, etc.
SquashBusters would be guaranteed the right to use the facility for at least 50 years, the continuing relationship to be re-negotiated after that time.
SquashBusters and MB would each have year-round rights to the use of six courts. During the MB squash season, MB and SquashBusters students would interact regularly.
SquashBusters would actively recruit MB students, faculty, staff and other community members to serve as tutors, squash coaches, and mentors for their students, providing the opportunity for authentic relationship-building across the two communities.
SquashBusters and Moses Brown have developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that authorizes the school to explore a partnership in greater detail (formal fundraising; facility design development). The MOU does not formally or legally commit either organization to anything at this point, though it does signal an intention to move forward if all conditions of the MOU are satisfied.
SquashBusters FACT Summary
Founded: in Boston in 1996 as the first after-school program of its kind in the United States - combining squash, academics, and community service. Their success spawned a national movement that now includes 16 urban squash/education programs with over 1,500 participants.
Enrollment: Currently serves 215 middle and high school students in Boston and Lawrence, and 60 alumni enrolled in college.
Goals: SquashBusters builds strong personal character, improves the physical and emotional health of its students, and ensures that students matriculate to and graduate from college.
Success: 98% of SquashBusters program graduates over the past 20 years have enrolled in college (86% in a 4-year college) and 66% have become college graduates.
Target Demographic: In recruiting students, SquashBusters partners with schools where at least 85% of students receive free or reduced lunch.
Participation Requirements: To participate, students must embrace the SquashBusters ICARE values (Integrity, Concern for others, Appreciation, Respect, Effort) and maintain a program attendance record of at least 80%. To qualify, students must have a core GPA of at least 1.7, a desire to go to college, and a willingness to give a strong effort in school, on the court, and in the community.