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News & Press Releases

USING SPORTS TO INCREASE ACADEMIC OUTCOMES FOR ELEMENTARY YOUTH

Elementary schools are in a great position to bring afterschool programming that breaks the inequities of youth sports, while also increasing academic achievement for our youth.

As we navigate the murky waters of distance education across the nation, many children have lost what they needed most: The opportunity to stay active playing team sports with friends and having a positive community that supports their growth and development. Many children have seen these opportunities taken away due to safety concerns of the current health crisis. However, as our nation moves towards reopening schools and “catching students up” academically, the need for extracurricular and sports opportunities will be critical for our most disadvantaged youth.

INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY

“This sports program changed my child’s life,” are reactions and testimonies often heard said from parents to our program staff. The Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA) provides elementary schools a positive youth development afterschool program that leverages sports to teach every child the importance of education, social emotional skills and character. While the kids love the aspect of being able to engage in school-based sports—wearing uniforms and having fun with their friends—they’re also developing and growing their critical skills that last a lifetime.

In a year where sports were cancelled, GYSA created a virtual sports program that provided every child a ball and a plan to stay active and play the sport they love, even from home. Keeping sports accessible for all children is the number one goal. GYSA is very intentional in its program curriculum, focusing on developing the life skills that translate to academic and future success.

INCREASING DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS

Regular participation in physical activity and higher levels of physical fitness have been linked to improved academic performance. Coming off a year (and possibly more) of distance education with sedentary life changes at an early age could lead to devastating health issues. Increases in screen time and decreases in daily physical activity levels could cause more children to fall into overweight/obese categories. Prior to the pandemic, one in three kids in the U.S. were overweight or obese. Because children spend so much time at school, schools have a unique opportunity to help children become healthier and more active. GYSA’s afterschool sports program allows children to receive up to 240 more minutes of physical activity during the school week.

IMPROVED SOCIAL EMOTIONAL SKILLS

Research has demonstrated the significant role of SEL in promoting healthy student development and academic achievement. The GYSA sports program delivers weekly SEL lessons to participating students focusing on areas such as self-management, responsible decision-making, self-awareness and relationship skills. These lessons are taught during hands-on lessons and experienced in a team sport environment with the coach as the mentor. Students not only learn sports skills but also the more important life skills that set a foundation for academic achievement.

With programming operating in two different states and positive year over year growth, GYSA is on pace to achieving its grand goal of impacting 100,000 children each year. The need for accessible sport opportunities have never been greater. 70% of low-income children never play a sport, primarily due to the costs. Accessibility has become a serious issue impacting equity in youth sports, and the benefits are too great to let these inequities continue. More school-based solutions need to be provided at the elementary level to ensure a successful future for our youth. Sports have a unique ability to engage and develop our children into healthy productive leaders of tomorrow.

https://naaweb.org/professional-development/item/1512-using-sports-to-increase-academic-outcomes-for-elementary-youth

Devonte Woodson M.Ed., is a graduate of Washington State University and Founder of Greater Youth Sports Association. Woodson is also an NAA Executive member and a 2021 NAA Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders Honoree.

News & Press Releases

SNHD Sponsors 80 Children In GYSA’s Ball & A…

Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA), the leader in after-school, elementary sports programming in Southern Nevada, is pleased to announce that Southern Nevada Health District has officially signed on to sponsor 80 low-income children to participate in the GYSA Ball & A Plan program.

The Ball & A Plan program is a deviation from GYSA’s regular programming in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which includes three sports seasons (soccer, basketball and football) will provide enrolled children with a GYSA custom sports ball and access to the Virtual Sports Academy which includes weekly sports instruction, weekly Social Emotional lessons and a character development workshop. Children will also have the opportunity to participate in the end of season Jamboree, which allows them to put their skills to the test in safe environment.

CCSD is currently facing $38 million in budget cuts, which means many schools have been forced to make tough decisions when it comes to cutting programs that provide extra support for their children. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has created less access than usual when it comes to extracurricular programming. SNHD’s donation will help ensure that GYSA is able to continue to serve children across Clark County despite budget cuts and the implications of COVID.

“We are so grateful to have received this donation which will help us provide much needed support to our children who are facing even more barriers than usual due to the challenging times we are currently facing in our Nation”, said GYSA Founder, Devonte Woodson.

The Health District works to assess, protect, and promote the health, the environment, and the well-being of Southern Nevada communities, residents, and visitors. Their donation to GYSA aligns perfectly with this mission and reinforces SNHD’s commitment to their community.

Nicole Bungum, Supervisor of the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion at SNHD explained, “One of our goals at the Health District is to increase the number of youth who are physically active and to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable opportunities for physical activity. We are pleased to support the work of Greater Youth Sports through our Move Your Way – Youth Initiative. Greater Youth Sports provides opportunities for youth to be physically active, especially youth who might not otherwise have opportunities to participate in sports. Their programs stress not only the importance of sport and physical activity but also character and education as well”. While our Nation continues to face a myriad of challenges it is actions like these that will help improve our community’s health, well-being, and future! 

 

News & Press Releases

GYSA Selected by GlobalGiving As Red Backpack Fund Recipient,…

August 17, 2020 — GlobalGiving announced today that Greater Youth Sports Association has been selected to receive a $5,000 COVID-19 relief and recovery grant from The Red Backpack Fund, an opportunity for small businesses and nonprofits made possible by The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation.

“My hope is that this gift will help alleviate some of the pressures caused by this horrible pandemic. Twenty years ago, I started Spanx with $5,000 in savings, and I see this as a time to pay it forward. Small business is the backbone of our culture. I know what it’s like to be a small business owner, and I want to provide some relief to these entrepreneurs during this time,” said Spanx Founder Sara Blakely.

The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish The Red Backpack Fund.

Thousands of business owners and nonprofit founders from across the United States and its territories applied to receive a grant from The Red Backpack Fund to combat economic hardship caused by COVID-19. Greater Youth Sports Association was selected for the grant based on its outstanding application, its urgent need for COVID-19 relief, and its demonstrated capacity to overcome COVID-19 setbacks.

GlobalGiving, a 501(c)(3) organization with nearly two decades of grantmaking experience, will award grants to at least 1,000 women entrepreneurs from now through September 2020 through The Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving has assembled a 100% women-led team to lead the grantee selection process. The team includes grant specialists, social workers, female entrepreneurs, analysts, and monitoring and evaluation experts.

“We’re proud to announce the grantees of The Red Backpack Fund. They have successfully undergone GlobalGiving’s rigorous vetting process, and we believe this grant will help them continue to thrive, despite the shifting economic circumstances brought on by this crisis,” said GlobalGiving CEO Alix Guerrier. “The world needs more women-led organizations who are a key force in overcoming COVID-19 and establishing a better normal.”

Learn more about The Red Backpack Fund at www.globalgiving.org/redbackpackfund.

“Receiving this grant is such an awesome honor”, said Annalise Lullo, GYSA Co-Founder. “GYSA, which is a majority female run organization, works tirelessly to support at-risk children in our community through after-school sports programming and character development. This grant will allow our program to thrive and rise despite the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you GlobalGiving and Sara Blakely for your generosity and stewardship!”

About Greater Youth Sports Association
GYSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Southern Nevada. GYSA believes that sports can build success in the lives of our youth. Sadly, more than 70% of low-income children do not participate in organized sports, often due to cost. GYSA created their signature program, the School Sports SolutionSM to combat this issue. Providing after-school sports programming to at-risk, low-income children is just one facet of the program, however. GYSA also provides enrolled children with character development workshops, weekly social emotional lessons and reading mentorship.

GYSA aims to transform the lives of low-income children by providing them with affordable programming that improves their physical and mental health and lays the foundation for a successful future.

About The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation
Since its inception in 2006, the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation has donated millions to charities around the world, focusing on charities that empower underserved women and girls. In 2013, Sara Blakely became the first self-made, female billionaire to sign the Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, promising to give at least half her wealth to charity. In 2020, Sara and the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation launched the Red Backpack Fund in partnership with GlobalGiving. Back by Sara Blakely, the $5 million fund supports the recovery and revitalization of female-owned businesses in the U.S. impacted by the coronavirus crisis. While many of the world’s resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed: Women. The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation is on a mission to support women and help them SOAR through education, entrepreneurship and the arts. Learn more at www.spanxfoundation.com.

About GlobalGiving
GlobalGiving is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit that makes it safe and easy to support important causes around the world. When a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic strikes, GlobalGiving quickly delivers funds to vetted organizations that are best-suited to lead immediate and long-term relief and recovery. As part of its mission to accelerate community-led change, GlobalGiving provides tools, training, and support to help nonprofits, donors, and companies increase their impact and make the world a better place. Learn more at www.globalgiving.org.

News & Press Releases

GYSA Recognized by President’s Council on Sports, Fitness &…

Local Nevada Non-Profit, Greater Youth Sports Association becomes an NYSS Champion.

(Las Vegas, NV) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to recognize Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA) as one of the first organizations to join the National Youth Sports Strategy (NYSS) Champion program. HHS released the NYSS in September 2019 in response to Presidential Executive Order 13824, which called for a national strategy to increase youth sports participation. The NYSS is the first Federal roadmap with actionable strategies to increase participation in youth sports, increase awareness of the benefits of youth sports participation, monitor and evaluate youth sports participation, and recruit and engage volunteers in youth sports programming.

NYSS aims to unite U.S. youth sports culture around a shared vision: that one day all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability, or ZIP code. NYSS Champions represent organizations that are working towards achieving this vision.

As an NYSS Champion, GYSA has demonstrated their organization’s support of youth sports and commitment to the NYSS vision. GYSA will be recognized along with other NYSS Champions on health.gov as part of a growing network of organizations partnering with HHS to improve the youth sports landscape in America.

“We know children who obtain regular physical activity gain important physical and mental health benefits, which are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains ADM Brett Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS. “I’m thrilled to acknowledge the work of the NYSS Champions who are furthering the mission of the NYSS and helping to foster a lifelong love of sports and physical activity for our Nation’s youth.”

“GYSA is ecstatic to be one of the first organizations to join the NYSS Champions platform”, said Annalise Lullo, Co-Founder of GYSA. “At GYSA we believe sports can build success in the lives of our children by improving both their mental and physical health. We also believe that all children deserve access to sports and that cost should never be the reason a child does not participate. Therefore, it is with excitement that we work with HHS to achieve this new vision for youth sports.”

About Greater Youth Sports Association

GYSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Southern Nevada. GYSA believes that sports can build success in the lives of our youth. Sadly, more than 70% of low-income children do not participate in organized sports, often due to cost. GYSA created their signature program, the School Sports SolutionSM to combat this issue. Providing after-school sports programming to at-risk, low-income children is just one facet of the program, however. GYSA also provides enrolled children with character development workshops, weekly social emotional lessons and reading mentorship.

GYSA aims to transform the lives of low-income children by providing them with affordable programming that improves their physical and mental health and lays the foundation for a successful future.

About the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (PCSFN) is a Federal Advisory Committee run by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and plays a vital role in keeping the Nation healthy. PCSFN and ODPHP accomplish this by setting national health goals and objectives and supporting programs, services, and education activities that improve the health of all Americans. PCSFN and ODPHP are part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about ODPHP visit health.gov.

The NYSS Champion is a service mark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Used with permission. Participation by GYSA does not imply endorsement by HHS/ODPHP.

News & Press Releases

Raider Cody Podcast and Raider Nation Raised More Than…

On June 8th, Raider Cody and Kenny King Jr., creators of the Raider Cody Podcast, announced that they were raising funds for local Las Vegas non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA). The money raised will go to providing after-schools sports programming, reading mentorship and character development for at-risk elementary age children in Southern Nevada.

Raider Cody, who is viewed as a premier Raiders talk host and voice of Raiders fans, had been looking for a way to support the new Raiders community in Las Vegas, when he came across GYSA. After speaking with GYSA Co-Founder, Devonte Woodson, they decided to aim to raise $5,000 which would provide programming to one partner school and approximately 100 children.

Raider Nation wasted no time in supporting the cause and within several days had raised nearly $1,500. The goal of hitting $5,000 seemed likely considering the fundraiser was to run until July 4th (former Raiders Owner, Al Davis’ birthday). And reach the goal they did. Nearly two weeks before the end of the fundraiser, Cody announced that fans had raised $20,000! This will impact four partner schools and more than 400 at-risk children.  

Nearly two weeks before the end of the fundraiser, Cody announced that fans had raised $20,000!

This Friday, July 3rd, 2020 at 10 a.m. the Raider Cody podcast will be live in Las Vegas at Stage Door Casino, where they will present GYSA with the funds raised. The event is open to the public and will be a great way to introduce the Las Vegas community to the strength of Raider Nation.

WHAT: Live Raider Cody Podcast and Check Presentation to GYSA

WHERE: Stage Door Casino, 4000 Linq Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89109

WHEN: 10:00 a.m.

Donations can still be made at: www.raidercody.com/greateryouth 

News & Press Releases

Raider Nation Already Giving to the Las Vegas Community

The Raiders have not yet played a game in their new home, but Raider Nation is already making an impact in the Las Vegas community by supporting local non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada. June 15, 2020. If you live in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can hardly miss the new stadium being constructed west of the strip for the Las Vegas Raiders. The city was thrown into a state of excitement in 2017 when the NFL officially approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas and has been anxiously awaiting the team’s arrival. 

While the Raiders have not yet played in Las Vegas, Raider Nation has wasted no time in sharing their Silver and Black pride with the city. On June 8th, Raider Cody and Kenny King Jr., creators of the Raider Cody Podcast, announced they were partnering with local non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA), to raise much needed funds for their mission. So far, Raider Nation has come together to raise $1,500 towards the $5,000 goal and will continue to raise money until July 4th, Former Raiders Owner Al Davis’s Birthday. Raider Cody is viewed as a premier Raiders talk host and voice of Raiders fans. 

The money raised will go to providing after-school sports programming to at-risk elementary age children. Sadly, 7 out of 10 low-income children do not participate in sports, often due to cost. GYSA, believes that all children deserve an opportunity to play and have been working since 2017 to make sure this happens for children who need it the most. If met, the money raised can impact up to 120 elementary-age children and give them the opportunity to play sports including flag football, basketball and soccer right at their school! GYSA does not only offer affordable elementary school sports but also weekly reading mentorship, a comprehensive SEL curriculum, and character development workshops. 

So, even though we haven’t yet seen the Raiders run through the tunnel at Allegiant Stadium, we have certainly felt their presence in our city, and are more excited than ever to truly become a part of #RaiderNation. 

To join Raider Cody in his goal of raising $5,000 please visit www.raidercody.com/greateryouth 

GYSA Blog

The Importance of After-School Programming in Times of Recession

The many implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have been widely felt around the world. In addition to the lives that have been lost, we have also seen and felt the impact the shutdown and the economic downturn have had on mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many experts are predicting that the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the worst economic recession in our lifetime (nytimes.com).

Some of those most deeply affected by a recession of this magnitude will be those living at or below the low-income threshold. For low-income, at-risk youth across the country the implications of COVID-19 are felt at a deep level. In addition to the loss of jobs and resources by their parents/guardians the simultaneous closing of schools creates problems more urgent than a simple interruption of their education, particularly in areas of health and social services.

Those most deeply affected by a recession of this magnitude will be those living at or below the low-income threshold.

It has been generally concluded that there is an undeniable relationship between health outcomes, socioeconomic status and poverty (healthypeople.gov). Low-income people are more likely to suffer from mental health problems and greater health risks. In the County Health Rankings, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation cites that 20% of children living in Las Vegas are living in poverty. These children, who are already more inclined to suffer from poor health, will feel increased pressure now more than ever due to the looming recession. So, in what ways can these children be supported during these challenging times?

While parents and guardians are also struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, our schools are uniquely positioned to offer support to underserved families, many of whom depend on school resources for more than just educational purposes. Schools are not immune to the effects of the recession however, and when budgets are tightened often resort to cutting social and health related services to put emphasis on academic improvements.

However, when making tough decisions due to budget it is crucial that schools keep programs and services that support Whole Child growth, particularly in times of struggle. A Whole Child Approach ensures that children are healthy, safe, engaged and supported. Such programs blend academics, social-emotional development, and physical activity, helping children maintain both physical and mental health.  

A Whole Child Approach ensures that children are healthy, safe, engaged and supported. Such programs blend academics, social-emotional development, and physical activity, helping children maintain both physical and mental health.  

There are many programs and services that offer these important levels of support, including Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA). When GYSA first started, the number one goal of the program was to provide services to those who are most underserved. The GYSA School Sports Solution program provides affordable, school-based sports opportunities to Title 1 elementary schools in Southern Nevada and uses the Whole Child Approach by blending Sports, SEL, Character Development and Reading Mentorship.

GYSA and programs like it will be extremely important to at-risk youth moving forward. In the individual case of GYSA, school-based sports have been shown to not only have physical health benefits, but also support classroom learning and mental health. Additionally, by providing low-cost opportunities directly at partner schools, some pressure is taken off parents/guardians who are likely already struggling due to impacts of the current state of affairs across the nation. 

GYSA Blog

COVID-19 and Our Children’s Physical Inactivity

The current state of affairs has brought our nation to a sudden and screeching halt, a complete shut down of the world we once used to know. From gyms, to sporting events, from small and large businesses, to schools, normal no longer exists. The adverse effects of this shut down will be plentiful. Among those effected are the children of America. Today’s youth already live an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and staying home for prolonged periods is not doing any favors for their physical activity levels. 

GYSA Founder, Devonte Woodson

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic our nation’s youth were not the most active group around. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that ONLY 24% of children, ages 6 to 17, participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Again, this finding was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-wide stay-at-home order. So, not only is it unlikely that 76% of children will start incorporating physical activity into their daily routines during this strange new time, but it is expected that the number of previously active children will fall as well. 

The CDC found that ONLY 24% of children, ages 6 to 17, participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day

According to the CDC the consequences of not being physically active include:

  • Energy imbalances which lead to increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. 
  • Increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased risk of factors for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. 

On the flip side, students who ARE physically active tend to have higher grades, better school attendance, improved memory, and more appropriate classroom behavior! 

“Unhealthy children become unhealthy adults”. Right now, it is vitally important to encourage physical activity in our children, and once school resumes, after-school sports programs such as the GYSA “School Sports Solution” (https://greateryouthsportsnv.org/school-sports-solution) will be more important than ever  for our schools and their students. GYSA believes in educating children at a young age about the importance of daily physical activity. By instilling this knowledge in our children at a young age, they will grow to be healthier, happier adults. 
We understand staying active during this time can be challenging. Below, GYSA has provided several tips for incorporating physical activity in your child’s daily routine:

  • Play a game of catch with a football or baseball outside (be sure to follow social distancing guidelines)
  • Work on your dribbling and passing skills by kicking around a soccer ball
  • Complete virtual home workouts, like Coach Woodson’s 15 Minute Daily Workout on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/greateryouthsports/live). Workouts are kid friendly and take place at noon each week day. 
  • Set aside one hour a day for any type of physical activities – avoid phones, the TV and other electronics. 
  • Avoid sitting for extended periods by taking a walk or just standing up and moving regularly – studies have shown that sitting for 3 hours a day or more can cut up to two years off a persons life expectancy!
News & Press Releases

250+ Attend GYSA Youth Development Seminar

Michael Waters, Mike Philogene and GYSA Founder Present To 250+ at GYSA Character & Awards Night

LAS VEGAS, Nevada. On November 15th, 2019 Greater Youth Sports Association, Inc. (GYSA) a 501(c)(3) non-profit, serving at-risk, elementary-age youth in Nevada, hosted its first Character and Awards Night of their 2019-2020 season. The event which was held at SLAM Academy featured speakers including Michael Waters of Phase 1 Sports; Motivational Speaker, Mike Philogene; and Devonte Woodson of GYSA.

The Character & Awards Night is a staple in GYSA’s premier program, the School Sports SolutionSM. These nights conclude each of GYSA’s three sports seasons and aim to teach student athletes important life lessons. GYSA Co-Founder Annalise Lullo explained “We believe we can use sports as a vessel to teach our athletes the importance of having good character and a sound education.”

Each speaker presented to the athletes and their parents about the importance of responsibility and taking ownership. The presentations were very interactive and got not only the students excited and involved but the parents and coaches as well. Devonte noted “there is so much good that comes out of this night. It gets the students thinking about their futures while simultaneously giving their parents tools to assist them in building successful lives”.

The next GYSA Character and Awards Night will take place following their 2020 Basketball season in February.

ABOUT GYSA: GYSA, which was founded in 2018, has accomplished much over its short life. Devonte and Annalise founded their non-profit because they believe that cost should never be the reason a child does not participate in sports. Sadly, this is the reality for 7 out of 10 low-income students. During their first year they impacted more than 700 students. This season they are on track to impact more than 1,200. However, Devonte and Annalise feel they’ve only scratched the surface with their impact. They hope to eventually impact more than 100,000 students each year.

News & Press Releases

Another Impactful Year

Local NV Nonprofit Provides a Solution for Title-1 Elementary Schools

In 2017, the concept for Greater Youth Sports Association’s (GYSA) School Sports Solution program grew organically out of the desire to help one student. This student spent most of his time in the Principal’s office. He was angry, poised to distract others and altogether unengaged with his schooling. If you’re an educator or administrator you know this student… you’ve seen him/her before and the question you always ask yourself is “what can I do to motivate this child?”. 

That very question was the spark that ignited the School Sports Solution Flame. After, GYSA Founder, Devonte Woodson (then Elementary School Teacher) discovered this particular student went home each day after school and did “whatever he felt like” with his older brothers, he decided to host a soccer camp at his school. The camp brought in more than 100 students which was when Devonte realized that many children could benefit from inexpensive, after-school sports programming. 

Did you know that 7 out of 10 low-income children do not participate in organized sports? The two biggest reasons for this lack of participation are cost and transportation. GYSA is the solution to this problem.

After months of pilot programming and problem-solving, GYSA entered the 2019 school year partnered with 14 local, Title-1, elementary schools to provide them with after-school sports programming. The School Sports Solution program provides three sports seasons (Flag Football, Basketball and Soccer), reading mentorship and character development. 

From the inception of the School Sports Solution program to today, the GYSA team and families have seen some truly transformational stories. This program is much larger than sports and hopes to have a lasting impact on the lives of all students they serve. 

With their impact last Football Season the program is on-track to service 1200+ students this school year. But for the GYSA Founders this is just the tip of the iceberg. They hope to take the program to a national level and impact 100,000 students each school year.