Athletics News

GW Hosts Grassroot Project Spring Graduation, Five-Year Celebration

Students from the SEED School shared their favorite memories and what they learned during the eight-week Grassroot Project program.

May 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – An organization that is near and dear to many student-athletes in the Foggy Bottom community, The Grassroot Project, held its spring 2014 graduation and five-year celebration at the Charles E. Smith Center on Wednesday evening.

The Grassroot Project, a nonprofit organization that has united over 530 student-athletes from GW, Georgetown, Howard and Maryland to provide eight-week, sports-based health education and HIV/AIDS prevention programs to local middle school youth, has now reached more than 40 schools across the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County.

An initiative that began in the spring of 2009, founder and CEO Tyler Spencer never imagined The Grassroot Project would grow into what it has become today, just five years later.

“It is an exciting time to look back and celebrate how far we have come from where we started, and I don’t think any of this would have been possible without student-athletes getting in the driver’s seat and making it happen,” said Spencer. “We owe where we are now to our student-athletes; their interest and passion to make a difference in the community is what drives our organization to become better every day.”

In addition to celebrating the five-year mark as an organization, The Grassroot Project also hosted nearly 100 middle school students from the SEED School and their friends and families, as well as TGP donors, for their program commencement. With so many Colonials student-athletes involved in the organization, hosting graduation at GW was the perfect fit.

“GW was the first school we teamed up with in the fall of 2009 and it has accounted for 180 volunteers who have collectively donated more than 3,500 hours of their time to our cause over the past five years,” said Spencer.

Youngsters took to one of the Smith Center’s auxiliary gyms to partake in several games that are not only fun, but are also used as learning tools. Following an hour full of activities, the group gathered in the bleachers of the arena where a few SEED students shared what they learned throughout their eight-week course, and everyone received a certificate of completion.

“As a four-year member of The Grassroot Project, it has been a really amazing experience to be a part of the development of the organization and see it all come together,” said recent women’s soccer graduate Jane Wallis, who served as program coordinator this past year. “It was also great to welcome the kids from SEED for their graduation and we hope we send them off with many life-long lessons.”

Grassroot Colonials was the second Grassroot program to form in D.C. with 15 student-athletes and has grown exponentially since then. Student-athletes must undergo extensive training which involves learning about HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as how to conduct information-based games, to become a Grassroot coach. The student-athletes not only serve as coaches and role models for the middle school youth, but they also aim to form a personal relationship and have lasting effects on the students' lives.

“There is a void in many schools where kids are lacking a person to speak with about the difficult things going on in their lives, and that’s what Grassroot student-athletes are able to provide,” said Spencer. “The middle schoolers love building these relationships with college student-athletes and hopefully we can plant the seed to remember this experience and they will continue on to college after high school.”