Racquet Up Detroit Breaks Ground on New Youth Facility

Racquet Up Detroit, a nonprofit organization that supports youth in the northwest part of the city through mentorships, education, and sports, has announced the construction of a new facility that is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
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Racquet Up Detroit facility rendering
Racquet Up Detroit is building a new youth facility, to be completed by the end of the year. // Rendering courtesy of Racquet Up Detroit

Racquet Up Detroit, a nonprofit organization that supports youth in the northwest part of the city through mentorships, education, and sports, has announced the construction of a new facility that is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The 19,000-square-foot facility will serve as the hub for the organization’s youth development program that places an emphasis on educational attainment, physical fitness, wellness, and college and career preparation.

Racquet Up Detroit recently celebrated 10 years of engaging youth and families through its comprehensive and long-term, out-of-school program — part of a 25-year track record of Racquet Up’s sister programs across the country.

The racquet sport of squash is the hook when participants begin in 5th grade, but intensive educational and personal support carry kids through many years, across high school graduation, and into college and careers, the organization states.

“After 10 years, we have a lot to celebrate — our students are truly inspiring, with 100 percent of our first three classes of students earning high school diplomas and admission to college, and the vast majority of them on track for college degrees or viable careers,” says Derek Aguirre, executive director of Racquet Up. “Their successes fuel our ambition of supporting more youth and families, and doing everything we can to promote the future of Detroit.”

The program currently serves more than 100 students from five partner schools in northwest Detroit, and the new facility will allow Racquet Up to expand its services to more than 200 students. Featuring state-of-the-art classrooms, a college and career center, and world-class squash courts, the new headquarters will serve as a neighborhood portal to opportunity, and a point of pride for the entire region.

“From the fun my son had in this program with mentors, coaches, and tutors, to the massive academic and character benefits he experienced, Racquet Up Detroit has exceeded all of my expectations,” says Tina Perkins, whose son, Trevone, is a Racquet Up Detroit student participant. “Racquet Up has become family to us, opened Trevone to opportunities, and supported us from 5th grade to his current studies at Specs Howard School of Media Arts (in Southfield).”

By expanding to the new facility, with six educational spaces and eight squash courts, Racquet Up Detroit will have the capacity to:

  • Double enrollment in the eight-year education and youth development program
  • Partner with more neighborhood schools (in addition to its five existing school partners)
  • Expand its college access and career development programs to twice as many students
  • Provide youth with greater access to the sport of squash, a highly effective vehicle for fitness, character development and travel opportunities
  • Offer new health and wellness activities to youth and families
  • Host world-class squash events
  • Establish powerful community partnerships

The facility project and the program has drawn support from a broad range of individuals, corporations, and foundations. Leading contributors to the facility include The Shelden Fund, the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation, the Elaine Stern Foundation, and the A. Alfred Taubman Foundation.

Additional contributions are needed to complete the capital campaign. To learn more about the new facility or make a donation, visit racquetup.org and click on the “FUTURE” menu item.

Racquet Up, which offers an intensive, holistic education, and youth development out-of-school program, has nine core program elements: Academic tutoring, literacy development, squash training, fitness and nutrition, community service, summer programming, mentoring, college access and success, and career pathways.

What began as a youth development initiative for pre-adolescents in 2010 has developed into a full-scale, 12-year college and career readiness program. In 2018, Racquet Up’s first class of seniors, who joined the program in 2010 as 5th graders, graduated from high school, and was accepted to a four-year college or university. The success rate was repeated in 2019 and 2020.

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