Founded in 2003, Project Coach's mission is to bridge economic, educational and social divisions facing Springfield's youth. We provide under-resourced Springfield teens with the support needed to reach their full promise and potential through paid employment as sport coaches and teachers of elementary-aged children.
At the heart of Project Coach is the belief that sports can be a powerful vehicle to enhance the lives of children, families and communities. On the field, in the gym and in the huddle, coaches play the pivotal leadership role in setting the tone and creating a culture. We believe that teens can become influential and formidable mentors to younger children when they are trained to step into that special role of "coach." Coaching is real and authentic leadership and our ongoing coach training focuses on helping teens develop skills indispensable for success in school and future work endeavors. Coaches must communicate, resolve conflict, inspire, problem solve and think strategically. Our coaches build these skills while developing an achievement orientation that puts them on a trajectory of success towards college and career readiness.
Our five goals are to provide programming that offers:
- paid work that is deeply meaningful to them and where they are honored for their contributions to their community, neighborhood and neighbors
- an opportunity to work on developing core skills identified by employers and higher education faculty as most critical for success:
- professionalism/work ethic
- oral communication
- creativity/innovation/problem solving
- access to mentors and educational experiences that help them focus on priorities, reach for goals and move systematically towards their dreams and aspirations
- opportunity for teenagers to form, coach, and teach teams of elementary children and teach a curriculum that provides sport activity, health and wellness education, and academic enrichment experiences all anchored to sport in literature, math, arts and science
- talented college and undergraduate students an opportunity to "try on" the role of being a teacher and work with urban youth on a broad array of educational and social issues