Kay ’95, center, at a fundraising event with two students
he works with through METROsquash. (Debra Tessier/Courtesy
April 2, 2008:
CONNECTIONS - METROsquash Tutoring on and off the court
In the shadow of a Tyrannosaurus
rex named Sue, world-ranked squash players squared off last fall
on a glass court inside Chicago’s Field Museum as public school
students looked on. The goal of the event, organized by Princeton
alumni, was to raise money to expand METROsquash, a nonprofit organization
run by David Kay ’95 that helps low-income students boost
their academic achievement by getting them hooked on squash.
Modeled after a Boston-based program, METROsquash was born in
2005 with help from Chicago’s founding board chairwoman Jacqueline
Moss ’93 and advisory board member Henry Bienen, former dean
of the Woodrow Wilson School. Moss, who played squash at Princeton,
saw METROsquash as a vehicle to broaden the horizons of youth in
a city where about six out of every 100 high school freshmen will
earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s, according to a
study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
METROsquash staff and volunteers tutor students three hours per
week in math and reading and teach them how to play squash. On Saturdays,
students compete in squash tournaments and participate in cultural
activities and community projects. “Exposure is probably one
of the best things we do as a program,” says Kay, a former
All-American captain of the Princeton men’s squash team.
Last year, 90 percent of the two dozen sixth- and seventh-graders
enrolled in the free program improved their grade-point averages,
with many jumping from C and D averages to A and B averages, says
Kay. METROsquash won’t let those with poor grades and bad
attitudes compete or go on field trips.
The fundraiser held in the Field Museum came together with the
help of museum president John McCarter ’60 and John Nimick
’81, a former squash pro whose event-promotion firm specializes
in tournaments featuring portable, glass-walled courts. The event
raised $150,000 for METROsquash, which will allow the organization
to work with its current 40 students through high school and eventually
expand to serve 200 kids.
By Johnathon E. Briggs
Johnathon E. Briggs is a freelance writer based in Chicago.