The National Youth Sports Program, an award-winning youth summer camp held at UC Davis since 1995, will not take place this summer due federal budget cutbacks.
“The budget cutbacks were actually two years ago,” said Sam Blanco III, an Educational Talent Search project administrator formerly in charge of the program at Davis.
“Last year we were able to sustain the program with no federal dollars, but it got to be too time consuming and not part of what we need to be doing,” he said.
The national program’s mission was to provide participants with “skills training and competition in a variety of sport activities designed to improve physical fitness and health habits, and exposure to educational and career opportunities,” according to nyscorp.org.
The UC Davis National Youth Sports Program chapter was determined to be the top program in both 2001 and 2004 out of 200 programs at universities nationwide.
“We were evaluated by someone from the national office and awarded for excellence in every aspect of our program,” Blanco said.
The program at Davis was the only program to offer personal instruction in sports such as fencing, and also boasted a record high number of participants with a high retention rate.
Federal funding provided $85,000 of seed money to start the program at Davis, and an additional 40 to 50 thousand had to be raised from grants to support the free summer program, Blanco said.
“Any cutbacks to academic preparation programs are not good,” said Harold Stewart Carballo, academic enrichment coordinator at UCD’s Academic Preparation Programs department. “We just need to be more creative on how we do our work, how we use the dollars that we do have to continue to offer quality programs.”
The program will be substituted this year by a summer academic program called College Success Institute, which will run from July 14 to Aug. 1.
In contrast to the sports program, the institute will have a strictly academic focus, emphasizing reading, writing, algebra and leadership to prepare 9th, 10th and 11th grade students for their next year of school.
“NYSP was available to anyone who wanted to participate, and covered both a wider area geographically and a larger range of age groups,” Blanco said.
The institute will be administered to a smaller demographic of students, with a stronger focus on post secondary education, said Carballo.
The program will host 40 to 50 students a week, whereas the sports program hosted upwards of 300 to 350 youths per week, Blanco said. The institute is only available to students involved in outreach programs sponsored by the Academic Preparation Programs department, and is funded by the state of California.
“Programs like [CSI and NYSP] are generally directed towards low-income families and students who would be first generation college attendees,” Carballo said.
“Cutbacks like this definitely hurt communities,” he said. “Over 60,000 kids were affected nationally by the budget cutbacks in the past two years. The NYSP headquarters in New Jersey has basically [been] dismantled.”
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at email@example.com.