Casey’s and Gatorade decided to provide $60,000 in funding through Gatorade’s Fuel Tomorrow initiative to three youth sports organizations in Knoxville, Tenn.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Oklahoma City. Gatorade’s Fuel Tomorrow initiative is focused on helping everyone have equal opportunities to play sports by breaking down barriers in communities that need it most. The funding provides $20,000 to each of the organizations for equipment and resources to better serve youth in underserved communities.
Playing sports can improve young people’s chances of succeeding in school and going to college, as well as provide other long-term benefits like higher self-esteem. Yet, there are significant barriers that prevent many kids, especially those from low-income backgrounds, from playing sports. Families have even fewer options to play sports coming out of COVID-19, with many reporting that their community-based sports provider has either shut down, merged or returned with limited capacity.
As part of the Fuel Tomorrow program, Casey’s and Gatorade are supporting the following organizations whose work is helping more young athletes realize their potential through the power of sports:
- RIVERSPORT Foundation — Oklahoma City
RIVERSPORT provides competitive rowing programs to Title 1 schools in Oklahoma City, with around 500 students participating throughout the year.
“Rowing offers tremendous opportunities for youth including collegiate scholarships,” said Mike Knopp, RIVERSPORT executive director. “RIVERSPORT works to ensure that all students, no matter their resources, can experience the rewards of rowing competitively.”
The Casey’s and Gatorade Fuel Tomorrow funding will kickstart RIVERSPORT’s effort to purchase a new fleet of rowing boats in preparation for the spring rowing season. With repair costs for boats now exceeding the value of the boats themselves, the funds from Casey’s and Gatorade come at a necessary time for RIVERSPORT to maintain its equipment.
- Center City Youth Sports Program — Knoxville, Tenn.
Center City Youth Sports Program (CCYSP) provides football, baseball and basketball programs to inner city kids in Knoxville, Tenn., serving more than 300 students from six underserved communities throughout the school year.
“This is the largest funding CCYSP has ever received,” said Churchie Riley, CCYSP board director. “This funding ensures that we don’t have to turn kids away from our programs.”
The Casey’s and Gatorade Fuel Tomorrow funding will address CCYSP’s need for football equipment, including purchasing new helmets and cleats for its growing student athletes. The $20,000 funding will also allow CCYSP to recruit additional coaches and volunteers to expand the quantity of teams and allow even more students to participate in its programs.
- The Mattie Rhodes Center — Kansas City, Mo.
Mattie Rhodes Center (MRC) is a non-profit organization in Kansas City, Mo., dedicated to individual and family well-being through social, behavioral health counseling, youth development and the arts. Mattie Rhodes Center provides soccer programming to youth in the Kansas City, Mo., community as a tool to address children’s health issues and juvenile delinquency.
“Currently, Mattie Rhodes Center only has the resources to offer soccer programs to youth,” said Alisha Gambino, director of youth and young adult services. “The funding from Gatorade and Casey’s will allow us to diversify the sports activities we offer our kids, to support their physical, cognitive and social development.”
The Casey’s and Gatorade Fuel Tomorrow funding provides the Mattie Rhodes Center with the opportunity to add “sport-sampling” to its repertoire, giving the 85 kids enrolled in programming the opportunity to experiment with a variety of sports and physical activities and expose them to activities they haven’t had the chance to try.
“Gatorade and Casey’s share a passion for fueling the next generation and ensuring sports inclusivity,” said Melissa Miranda, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Beverages North America, Central Division. “Each of these organizations were selected for their dedication to creating more equity and opportunity in sports in communities that need it most. We are thrilled to provide them with funding so they can continue to make a positive impact and help young people explore their unlimited potential.”
“Casey’s is proud to partner with Gatorade to ensure the athletes of tomorrow have a level playing field,” said Katie Petru, director of communications and community at Casey’s. “From purchasing necessary sports equipment to hiring new coaches, our combined resources are allowing these young athletes the chance to excel at their passions, and we couldn’t be happier to fuel a better tomorrow for these rising stars.”
Casey’s is a Fortune 500 company operating over 2,400 convenience stores. Founded more than 50 years ago, Casey’s provides freshly prepared foods, quality fuel and friendly service at its locations. Guests can enjoy pizza, doughnuts and a wide selection of beverages and snacks.