Aubrey Kent, chair of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and founder of the Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), knows that in a resource-constrained environment, community organizations often struggle with the day-to-day.
Kent recently served as a facilitator of the Beyond Sport Summit’s Urban Communities Symposium, a full-day event to discuss how sport can address youth violence in Philadelphia.
The Sept. 10 symposium, at the Lowes Hotel, attracted attendees from different areas of the world — from Philadelphia to Chicago to the United Kingdom — as well as from a variety of organizations, including the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, Philadelphia Police Athletic League (PAL), Eagles Youth Partnership and others.
Kent urged attendees to work with one another to gather resources and engage in “long-term strategic planning.
“We face all of these common challenges, and it’s really daunting when we’re in our office on our own, not realizing that there are many other stakeholders – and others who do so much like us,” Kent said. “We need to learn from each other’s challenges and mistakes and know that we’re not in it alone and in some ways make partnerships strategically to get ideas.”
SIRC has done just that.
Founded in 2008, SIRC, serving as a collaborative research network, has provided opportunities for academics, students and professionals to explore how sport positively impacts communities.
Much of the center’s work has been applied to research collaborations with groups and organizations focused on youth, such as Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, the Starfinder Foundation for youth soccer, and Students Run Philly Style, a mentorship program that uses marathon training to help youth succeed in life. Students Run Philly Style, a strong SIRC partner, won the Barclays Philadelphia Impact Award at the Beyond Sport Summit, which the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management sponsored. Students also volunteered at the summit.
Before its partnership with SIRC, founders of Students Run Philly Style understood what kind of impact they wanted to have on the youth they served but were only able to provide anecdotes to explain the organization’s life-changing power.
Through research on the correlation between running and positive academic outcomes, increased self-esteem and other metrics, SIRC uncovered data that supported the organization’s efforts. SIRC Director Jeremy S. Jordan plays a leading role in the research partnership with Students Run Philly Style.
Although SIRC provides research to nonprofits, Kent highlighted why such organizations should continually strive to obtain resources on their own.
“I encourage those of you who work or volunteer in these organizations to push for resources to enable you to focus on the long-term, which allows you to articulate to your staff why you are doing the day-to-day,” Kent said. –Alexis Wright-Whitley