Connecting American youth and today’s athletes to cultivate character and community
Community Development

No other country has as rich a tradition of volunteerism as the United States; it’s part of the fabric of our culture. Already well in place by the time Alexis de Tocqueville arrived here in 1831 to research and write Democracy in America, and finding its contemporary expression in the fact that the U.S. outpaces the second most generous country by nearly 4x (in 2006 the U.S. donated 2.2% of GDP to the independent sector, versus the second-place U.K., who gave .6% of its GDP), the American eleemosynary spirit champions the individual’s willingness and ability to contribute mightily to the betterment of society. In the Arena is honored to lend a hand to the bearing of that torch and ideally, to fan its flames.

Thanks to public figures like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono and even Bill Clinton, “philanthropy” is now a part of the vernacular and coupled words and ideas like “social entrepreneur” and “venture philanthropy” are enjoying increasingly wider usage. Yet while the moneyed hubs of New York, Atlanta, San Francisco and Boston are pioneering innovative solutions to social problems both at home and abroad, some pockets of this country remain largely untouched by this wildfire of charitable thought and action.

While the work In the Arena accomplishes is complex in its execution, its blueprint is remarkably simple: anchor the most effective role models in targeted youth populations. With a premise this nimble, we can run a program anywhere today’s youth gather. For this reason, In the Arena’s nationwide model is readily scalable and is poised to permeate the shadowy nooks and crannies of communities that might not otherwise be touched by the highest-caliber agents of social change. With programs up and running in loci as disparate as Alamosa, CO, East Peoria, IL, and Big Bear, Mammoth and Chula Vista, CA, In the Arena is further democratizing America’s charitable efforts and striving towards equal community access to the most effective youth programming.

In time, and in brief time, we believe, In the Arena’s program map will be an out-picturing of George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light,” a tip of the hat to the non-partisan vision of this country’s volunteer spirit.

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