Giving Back to Boston: Spring 2023 Grant Recipients Announced

Launched in April, the B.A.A. Grant Program aims to support local nonprofit organizations that advance the B.A.A.’s mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running, to build healthy communities. Here we meet five of the fourteen organizations that received funding in the inaugural round to learn more about what they do and what this program means to them. 

Rise Above Foundation 

Supporting youth in foster care to provide enriching social activities including sports, Rise Above Foundation fills a gap for children who often go through trauma in their development years.  These activities help to build self-esteem, resilience, confidence and develop teamwork skills. 

“The grant we have received from the Boston Athletic Association is being used in the Boston area to support our under 13 football, baseball and summer camps,” said Wade Sulzman Co-Founder & President of the Board 

Rise Above receives a high volume of applications from social workers, foster parents and schools with an aim of serving almost half of the 10,000 foster children in the state of Massachusetts by 2026. 

Sulzman continued, “Thanks to the B.A.A., we were able to welcome 50 more children into our programs this year. Through our research we know the impact this program has on foster children that carries with them into adulthood and we are very grateful for the support through this grant program and from everyone who supports what we do.”  

261 Fearless Club New England  

The story of 261 began with the Boston Marathon in 1967 when a young Kathrine Switzer, wearing bib number 261 was challenged on the course, simply for being a woman. She became the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon and Kathrine Switzer and Edith Zuschmann went onto establish a global women’s running network that helps women to find their own 261 Fearless Moment. 

The B.A.A. Grant Program will support their ‘Activate You’ program for inactive women in Dorchester and East Boston. This 12-week program supports women in a non-competitive environment with many going onto join a run club as they start setting goals and find a support network to exercise with. 

Katina Wolfe, Club Director for 261 Fearless Club New England said, "The funding from the Boston Athletic Association gives us a wonderful opportunity to engage with more women in new Boston neighborhoods and provide them with the resources to get active locally.” 

Youth Enrichment Services Inc. (YES) 

A private, nonprofit organization, Youth Enrichment Services (YES) provides affordable and impactful sports-based youth development and leadership programming for Boston 7–18 year-olds.  

“Having the B.A.A. as a partner is fantastic. Their support gives us real credibility and shows they believe in what we are doing,” said Bryan Van Dorpe, YES Executive Director.  

The funds are supporting a free summer track and field program which is being staged at Moakley Park and English High School four nights a week. YES also offers the program during the spring and fall seasons.  The organization serves Boston children from low-to-moderate income families with a priority focus on the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Jamaica Plain.  The program operates with only two part-time staff, relying largely on their wonderful team of volunteers.    

“Everyone involved gets such a lot from seeing the confidence the children develop; their excitement at trying new things; and hearing from the parents the impact the program has on their children at home. Some of the kids from our program are now returning as coaches. That is proof that what we are doing makes a real difference and has lasting impact,” continued Van Dorpe.   

Stride for Stride 

With the goal of making races more accessible and more diverse Stride for Stride buys race bibs for immigrant, BIPOC and low-income runners.   

Founder of the organization Tom O’Keefe said, “We are incredibly grateful for the financial recognition and support of the B.A.A. Every dollar of the grant will go towards purchasing race bibs for those who can't afford to run.”  

Launched at the end of 2018, Stride for Stride has already spent $38,000 on race bibs in 2023 ($121,000 overall); including bibs for the Boston Marathon, and NYC Marathon. Most of Stride for Stride’s team members live in the Boston area, but the group is also growing in New York City and Miami. 

O’Keefe continued, “Stride for Stride is a welcoming community and support network for all of our runners, most of whom are immigrants who can often feel alone in this country. We currently sponsor 310 runners from 25 countries, and had 87 runners competing in the B.A.A. 10K in June. It was a wonderful day!” 

Adaptive Sports New England  

Dedicated to increasing participation in sports among New England youth and adults who have visual or mobility impairment, Adaptive Sports New England are using their funding from the B.A.A. to help run a para track and field program at White Stadium, Franklin Park. Currently focusing on wheelchair athletes with the hope of expanding to para-athletes that are runners, the group includes some children who have raced the B.A.A. 5K and others as young as aged six who are just starting out. 

Requiring a high coach to athlete ratio, additional funding allows them to hire enough coaches to support the athletes. 

"The next generation of para-athletes  is taking part in B.A.A. events and programs right now. Expansion of these opportunities for young para-athletes shows the BA.A.’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This grant program is another way of underwriting that commitment for the future. Supporting the development of local athletes is a great step forward for the B.A.A.,” said Joe Walsh, President of Adaptive Sports New England,” said Joe Walsh, President of Adaptive Sports New England. 

For any organizations interested in benefiting from the B.A.A. Grant Program, information about the application window will be on in late August. 



261 Fearless Club New England 
Achilles International 
Adaptive Sports New England 
The Barton Center for Diabetes Education Inc. 
Boston Lions Track Club 
Boston United Track & Cross Country Club 
Healthy Kids Running Series - Jamaica Plain 
Massachusetts Sickle Cell Association 
Newton Athletes Unlimited 
Rise Above Foundation 
Stride for Stride 
Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs 
Youth Enrichment Services Inc.