With today’s children more apt to play with a phone than a ball and bat, finding ways for kids to be active is crucial. That’s the passion that fuels Good Sports, a nonprofit based in Quincy, Massachusetts, that has raised more than $16 million in athletic equipment, apparel and footwear for children across the country since it launched in 2003.
“We’re living in an environment where technology is a competitor to sports and physical activity,” says co-founder and CEO Melissa Harper. “Research shows kids generally become less interested in sports as they move into their teenage years, so it’s very important for kids to be encouraged to play from a young age.”
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Their beneficiaries to date include approximately 2,700 youth programs in all 50 states, including 1 million kids in 2015 alone. “We want to eliminate cost as a barrier for kids to have the opportunity to play sports and be physically active,” Harper says.
In 2002 a friend of Harper’s husband wanted to unload extra sports equipment. His quest inspired the foundation. After 18 months of planning, Harper and her friend Christy Keswick, both 28 at the time and competitive athletes growing up, quit their jobs and dedicated themselves full time to Good Sports.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley was among the first partnerships, which came through Josh Kraft, whose father Robert owns the New England Patriots. That funding allowed the company to launch, and soon thereafter, Spalding donated 500 basketballs. More recently, ESPN, several NFL teams and a variety of Fortune 500 companies have offered assistance as Good Sports looks to expand from offices in Boston, Chicago and New York City to Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles.
And we’re not just talking football and baseball either. Good Sports served 24 sports in 2015 alone, because as Harper says, “We don’t care what kids are playing, just as long as they play and stay active.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.