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Los Angeles tennis charity ACEing Autism gets USTA grant

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USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association, announced it has awarded ACEing Autism in West Hollywood, Calif., a $15,000 grant. Since its inception six years ago, ACEing Autism has grown to provide recreational tennis programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in 25 locations across the United States. The grant money will be used to add 12 new program locations, with more growth planned, according to Executive Director Richard Spurling. The growth strategy aims at launching programs in tennis clubs, public schools, colleges and autism schools. This is the second USTA Serves grant for ACEing Autism, which previously received a $12,000 award.

“USTA Serves is proud to end the year by awarding and recognizing some of the country’s most phenomenal programs for their efforts toward impacting the lives of youth through tennis and education,” said Dan Faber, Executive Director, USTA Serves. “These programs have a solid foundation and exhibit tremendous dedication to serving children who deserve a life filled with education and physical activities. For this, we thank them for leading the way in designing a nurturing environment where students can thrive and succeed on and off the tennis court.”

The biannual grant process, a national initiative of USTA Serves, was established to award organizations that successfully combine tennis and education for underserved youth as well as people with disabilities to gain an opportunity to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format. These programs also strive to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles. To date, USTA Serves has awarded more than $17 million in grants and scholarships to standout players and programs throughout the country in order to provide at-risk and underserved youth with greater opportunities to achieve success.

Richard Spurling founded ACEing Autism in 2008 while still teaching tennis in Boston. Following his 2010 move to West Los Angeles he was able to get the program in full swing while working part time for clubs like the Braemar Country Club. Now that Spurling and his wife Shafaly Jeste are working full time at ACEing Autism, they were able to add a lot more programs and events to their annual schedule. While still looking for corporate sponsors, the organization now offers 30 programs nationwide, like the clinic at Burbank Tennis Center every Saturday morning from 9-10 am. April 5 will see a larger fundraising event for ACEing Autism when clinics and Liveball action are offered at the Riviera Country Club. Riviera may also become the venue for the annual ACEing Autism Gala October 18, following a successful 2013 Gala at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.

Regarding his next goals, Spurling says, "Defining our growth strategy is a priority for me right now. After letting USPTA and PTR pro's set up programs in clubs for us in the past, we are also now approaching Colleges for letting students set up programs there, utilizing www.school.me as a communication tool."

USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the USTA, provides financial support for disadvantaged youth and people with disabilities through tennis and education programs designed to improve health, build character, teach life skills and motivate students to strive for academic excellence. For more information on USTA Serves, visit www.ustaserves.com.

The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the United States and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level, from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 770,000 members, it invests 100 percent of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA’s national charitable foundation, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and helps underserved youth and people with disabilities. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/usta, or follow @usta on Twitter.

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