NYC Juniors is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization offering over $200,000 annually in financial support to aspiring young volleyball players in New York City. Since its formation in 1993 the club has been committed to a philosophy and mission to allow any athlete who wants to play, regardless of their socioeconomic background, to have that opportunity.

Here’s how NYC Juniors raises money for a scholarship fund and how the fund was established:

Background story of NYC Juniors

NYC Juniors Founder and Executive Director Doug Levine was born and raised in New York City, and was always involved in a variety of sports. During middle school, a Physical Education teacher got him involved in volleyball.  Doug continued to play volleyball in high school, although his school did not have a varsity program.  His team had to play other varsity programs in the city, which were very few at the time, and even traveled to Albany to play other high school teams. He was hooked.

Doug played on the men’s club team at the University of Maryland from ‘83-87’ and then returned to NYC and coached at his alma mater ,Hunter High School. In 1989, Doug was invited by Laurel Kessel (Brassey) to be a grad student with the volleyball team at the University of New Mexico. In 1991 he returned to NYC and officially started NYC Juniors soon after.

“It started, in concept, when I was teaching at a Private School and convinced two friends, who were also teachers, to start a club,” explains Doug. “One of the teachers was up in Harlem and already running an after school volleyball program. So we had a mix of boys and girls, half from Harlem, the other half from two private schools.”

NYC started out with one boys team and one 12U girls team comprised of 5th and 6th graders. The teams trained and competed in Junior Nationals in Austin, TX that first season. It was a memorable experience.

The amazing part was that we had some kids who had never been on an airplane before or had never stayed in a hotel! It was truly special,” adds Doug.

By the third year the club grew to four teams, and continued to slowly grow in size. Today, NYC Juniors has 15 girls teams ages 8 to 18 years old that live in all five boroughs of New York City. The club offers travel teams, skills academies, and camps.

Being located in NYC is challenging because the gym rentals are astronomical. NYC Juniors are presently using a facility that charges $250/hour for two courts, which they squeeze 3 courts in to make it $333 per team per practice. Team Fees today range from $3,600-$9,000 per season depending on age-group and travel schedule.

Forming the Scholarship Fund

During the first few years, Doug usually put in his own money to help supplement costs such as uniforms, entry fees, coaches stipends, and court rental. In 1993 the fees were $800 per athlete and then $900 per athlete in 1994 and 1995.  In the third year a parent generously donated $2,500 to help subsidize fees for those families who could not afford to pay . That helped cover half of the families cover expenses.  Since then the club has been fortunate to have many donations to its scholarship fund.

“A few years back, one parent who had the resources and believed in what we do so much that her single donation allowed us to grow and do more peripheral things (bring clinics to schools) and allowed our top teams to travel to a major Qualifier” Doug says.

The other main source of income that goes directly into the scholarship fund is running camps. We pay the coaches and the rest goes directly into the fund. Also, the club has done some fundraising here and there while continuing to solicit from individuals and businesses. Being a 501(c)(3) allows NYC Juniors to receive larger donations and individuals/companies can write that off.

Just over 35% of NYC Juniors families are receiving financial assistance. That can range from 10% scholarship to 90% scholarship, with payments spread out over a full year. Families apply after tryouts and the applications are reviewed by hand to sort out the aid based on the information provided.

With three primary staff members, two of whom have full-time jobs as teachers, Doug and his staff are not relying on the club to be their main source of income. Therefore, the majority of the donations go toward the needs of the athletes.

“It is ONLY because of the belief that people have in what we are doing to empower young females in NYC to grow and learn through volleyball, that we exist,” states Doug.

Over the past 3 years, NYC Juniors has given out over $200,000 (annually) in financial aid through its scholarship program. In the last decade the club has give out over $2 million.

“Life through volleyball. Doesn’t get any better than that,” says Levine.

NYC Juniors (New York City, NY) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans.