Davon Curtis, a St. Andrew Nativity School sixth grader, practices long jump at the school in April. (Courtesy Every Kid Sports)
Davon Curtis, a St. Andrew Nativity School sixth grader, practices long jump at the school in April. (Courtesy Every Kid Sports)

This spring, St. Andrew Nativity School, Catholic Youth Organization and a not-for-profit called Every Kid Sports teamed up to help more students glide, soar, leap and toss after a year of isolation and confusion.  

St. Andrew Nativity, a collaboration of St. Andrew Parish in Northeast Portland and the west coast Jesuits, is a tuition-free middle school that offers a rigorous Catholic education to talented kids whose families otherwise could not afford it. CYO is the longtime organizer of sport in Oregon’s Catholic community.

Every Kid Sports, the newcomer of the trio, is a Bend-based organization that provides grants so families with relatively little income can pay registration fees. The idea is that every child deserves to play.

For dozens of St. Andrew students, the teamwork meant a thrilling season of track and field. 

The Every Kid Sports PASS program allows families to apply for financial assistance for many kinds of sports and activities. Families can apply four times per year, for up to $150 each time, for every child in their family aged 4 to 18. They are expected to chip in $10 for each program. Recreational sports, dance, martial arts and swim lessons are covered. Not on the list are summer camps or elite sports leagues.

“Our goal is to ensure every child has the ability to participate in a sports program, regardless of family income,” said Amanda Conde, community development manager at Every Kid Sports. “We believe that sports is one of the most valuable youth development tools, instilling teamwork, accountability, social bonds and self-confidence in kids. By investing in youth sports, we are investing in a child’s future.”

The Every Kid Sports Pass has been available throughout the Pacific Northwest since 2019. More than 3,000 scholarships have gone out, courtesy of donors.

The pandemic may have slowed youth sports, but they appear to be coming back, including at CYO. Natalie Hummel, executive director of Every Kids Sports, hopes to raise $10 million dollars this year to give grants to 100,000 young athletes. 

 “The scholarships provide the chance for the students at St. Andrew to participate in sports that they might not be able to do otherwise,” said Randy Dollar, head running coach at Nativity and a member of the CYO track and field commission. Dollar said few of the school’s families could afford fees for a year full of sports.

And with the pandemic, it became clear how important sports would be for both physical and mental health.

“The kids need a way to expend physical energy, but it needs to be in an organized, directed way,” Dollar explained, adding that organized activities take pressure off of parents and guardians, many of whom need to work full time.

Dollar appreciates CYO for its variety — basketball, swimming, volleyball, cross country and track and field. The running was the first sport to return after the pandemic.

“St. Andrew Nativity School does an amazing job helping its students succeed,” said Dollar. “And sports are an important part of helping the students. Not all of the students compete in sports, but there is real comradery between the students and they all encourage and support each other's activities. In a normal year, I usually get over half the school out for track, but the program is celebrated by everyone.” 

 

Learn more  

everykidsports.org/programs/pnw/pass

cyocamphoward.org