War on Poverty Relic Quietly Thrives: National Youth Sports Program

July 1, 2000

Here is a look at staffing and funding at one National Youth Sports Program, at the University of Maine, Orono:


USDA: $22,400

NCAA: $58,500

University: $45,611

Community: $46,187

Total: $172,698

Participants: 220/day average

Staff: six auxiliary staff, five professional instructors, nine project aides, 11 support staff (five of whom are in aquatics, as life guards, etc.). Total: 31.

The biggest challenge for the NYSP at University of Maine, Orono, now in its eighth year, is coming up with funds for transportation, says Project Administrator Steven Butterfield. Kids in the program come from about 22 counties, Butterfield says; an hour-long commute in the morning is normal for many kids. A runner-up challenge is negotiating payments to the university’s dining service.

Author Steven King, who is from Bangor, Maine, has made two grants, used to deflect transportation costs: $15,000 in 1996 and $10,000 last year. Last year, transportation cost $28,500, but will probably rise this year because of higher gas prices. Last year and this year the bus company gave NYSP an $11,000 discount.

Also last year, two staff members rollerbladed from Maine to San Francisco with a collection “hat,” and flew back with $5,000. This, too, went toward busing costs.
Community support is mostly professional services and in-kind donations from small businesses. Doctors and nurses donate time for physical exams of all the NYSP participants. Donations have included bikes from Wal-Mart and sports supplies from local sporting goods stores. McDonald’s, Burger King, movie theaters and video stores have donated “incentive prizes.”

The program is fairly well-connected politically.

A member of the advisory board is also a staffer for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the program also has the support of the local congressman, Rep. John Baldacci (D-Maine).

Why has NYSP survived all these years? “Partnership and accountability,” Butterfield says. “It’s not a total federal giveaway. It’s a federal challenge. Our congressman likes that it’s a partnership.” And they’re careful with the money, as they get randomly audited by Price Waterhouse. “NCAA really watches this money.”

Myers, Jim and Amy Bracken. "War on Poverty Relic Quietly Thrives: National Youth Sports Program." Youth Today, July/August 2000, p. 40 - 41.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.