As I drove our SUS van last Friday to pick-up kids from school to school and bring them all to our base station Northgate Elementary, it gave me an opportunity to reflect upon our second year in operation with the Seattle Urban Squash program.
First and foremost the financials – We completed our second year in operation with positive bank balance thanks to tremendous generosity of our Squash community and their friends! Here is a financial comparison of our first two years of operations.
We are very pleased to report a 15% rise in the funds that we received this past year. While over half of our contributions came from our dedicated board members, advisory members and their close family and friends, it is very rewarding to see our greater Squash community and their employers (more on this later) step up and provide a larger share of contributions in 2014 – read more on our highly successful first ever annual auction dinner as part of our academic 2013-2014 year review report here.
The expenses rose significantly also but it is important to point out that we only started operating mid 2013 so a rise of nearly 100% in most of our expenses in FY2014 is for the most part reflection of a complete year of operations in 2014 versus only half year of operations in 2013. We purchased a van and depreciated it completely last year and that explains a much larger transportation expense for 2013. We received another van from Seattle Metro in 2014 (that’s the van I drove last Friday) so now we have two vans in our possession and that reflects in a bit higher insurance expense. However our operating expenses (sports supplies, snacks, parking, fuel, supplies etc…) rose twice as much (4 times over 2013) with the entire year of operations with expanded program, more staff and more students (more on this later). Some of the expenses also went towards fundraising efforts.
Staying on finances, Seattle Urban Squash received its public charity status from Internal Revenue Service in 2014 (read more on that here) and that has enabled us to receive matching employers contributions as well as corporate grants in addition to individual contributions due to its existing 501(c)3 tax deductibility status. We plan to put more focused effort this year to reach out directly to many more corporations be it for their employee matching or for their corporate community development grants.
It has been a great year of growth in all aspects! After a diligent tryout period, we added 4 more kids to the program. With many of our kids graduating from elementary school beginning of this school year, we are very pleased to have them all coming back this year to continue with our program but with each of them going to a different middle school (thankfully all in the north Seattle area) it has created a transportation logistics challenge that we are still in the midst of sorting out. We had known about this last year also but did not expect kids to be in 5 different schools.
We further strengthened our partnership and collaboration with Seattle Athletic Clubs and secured a new facility for SUS at their prime downtown location twice a week. That has enabled us to add another day of Squash and academics for our students making it 4 days a week program consistent with National Urban Squash program guidelines. We also finalized our fundraising team tournament calendar with the club for two scheduled tournaments a year one each at the Downtown and the Northgate club.
We formalized our program organization with Steve Severson as full-time Executive Director along with Ana Martins as part-time Academics and Zane Lowdermilk as Athletics Directors. Together we have a very strong program management team in place who have put together a great athletics and academics program and who works closely with kids, parents, school staff and our dedicated volunteers to provide exceptional guidance to our kids during every session. Bringing Zane as part-time Athletics Director was made possible in part by our partnership with Coach Across America / Up2US who also provided a great onboarding support to both Zane and Steve. We plan to renew our partnership with CAA in 2015 also and with your continued support will look to expand this partnership as appropriate.
With two years of operations under the belt, it is very heartening and encouraging to see Seattle Urban Squash flourish and grow steadfastly. On behalf of our entire board, staff, and kids I thank you all in our close knit, caring and extremely generous Squash community and equally so their family members and friends to make 2014 another fabulous year.
Happy 2015 to all of you and we look forward to your continued personal involvement and support to our shared vision of creating pathways of opportunities for kids from underserved communities around us through Squash, Education and Community Service.
Chairman and Co-Founder,
Seattle Urban Squash