Giselle, 21, feels like she grew up in Beyond the Ball, a nonprofit in Little Village that uses the power of sport and play to uplift individuals and the community. She first became involved at age 5 when she joined Bitty Ball, the organization’s kindergarten through second grade basketball program. “There weren’t any sports programs in my school other than gym class, and it was a great opportunity to open up and get out of my bubble and socialize with other kids,” Giselle says. Beyond the Ball offers grade level sports programs for basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Giselle continued to participate in various programs throughout her elementary school years. Beyond the Ball’s goal is to maintain a relationship with participants throughout college, mentoring them each step of the way. Through sports, staff teach respect, responsibility, teamwork, perseverance, leadership and community.

As participants get older, they mentor their younger peers. They are encouraged to take ownership of programs—leading activities, coaching younger students and developing responsibility for programs.

“I’ve been able to see the kids that I coached grow up and do great things in their lives,”

Giselle Garcia

Giselle began volunteering at age 13, assisting with a variety of tasks for the organization’s community play programs. In June, she joined Beyond the Ball as a part-time operations support specialist. Like many of the program’s alumni, she attends college. She recently started her junior year at DePaul University and plans to go to law school after she graduates. “I’ve been able to see the kids that I coached grow up and do great things in their lives,” Giselle says. “I have continued to watch their love for sports, education, and for many, their continuous love for volunteering. It’s an incredible cycle that reflects the impact of Beyond the Ball.”

Not everyone has an equal shot at the American Dream. Fortunately, there are dedicated people across Chicagoland who are committed to making sure every child and family has opportunities to achieve their goals. With your support, we can create new possibilities and help make countless dreams come true. With support from donors like you, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations on Chicago’s South and West sides improving the lives of children and families each and every day.