What We Do
The Uniform Funding Foundation was founded by Michigan student-athletes because there is significant inequality in the United States; many youth athletes in underserved communities participate in athletic programs that are seriously underfunded and are often neglected. We have identified three main areas in sports where underserved children face challenges:
1.) Forced to use uniforms and equipment over 15 years old.
2.) Receive unequal amount of resources & mentorship (compared to more affluent areas)
3.) Unable to play sports due to pay-to-play fees (Aspen Institute, 2018)
Data; In 2018, the percent of kids ages 6 to 12 who engaged in NO sport activity was a mere 9.9% for households with incomes over $100,000, while 33.4% for households with incomes under $25,000.
At TUFF, The Uniform Funding Foundation, we believe that socioeconomic status should not determine the amount of opportunity one receives. Each and every athlete should have the ability to use adequate equipment, receive fair resources and mentorship, and be blessed with the opportunity to play sports. Hence, we continuously fight for social justice by providing uniforms, equipment, and mentorship to underserved youth athletes.
1. We receive your generous donation!
2. We identify and select underserved youth teams that are in dire need of new uniforms and equipment.
3. Surprise Donation Day / We surprise youth teams after their practice with new uniforms and equipment. We then play various games, develop relationships with the athletes, and offer mentorship from collegiate and professional athltes.
- Checkout the video below to watch footage from our surprise donation days!
Summer 2020 Highlight Video
If you haven't already viewed our video at the top, please watch the highlight video attached! It is a recap of our Summer 2020 Football Donations, where we offered uniforms, equipment, and mentorship to over 1,200 underserved youth athletes in Detroit and Cleveland. With your generous donations, we will affect thousands of more youth athletes!
Who and Where?
Currently, we are primarily focused on youth football and girl's and boy's basketball. By Summer 2021, we will be making donations to girl's soccer, boy's baseball, and lacrosse teams. As we grow, we hope to expand into other sports.
In the past we have made donations in Detroit, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio directly affecting over 1,800 athletes. As we continue to expand, we will facilitate donations across the country. For the price of an Adopt-A-Team Donation (more information in costs) we will make a donation in your name, to a team in any city of your choice!
Mentorship is what differentiates us from other nonprofits in this space. The Uniform Funding Foundation is run by current Division I Football players, and we have ample connections to collegiate and professional athletes from all different sports and states. This unique platform allows us to connect underserved youth athletes with collegiate or professional athletes that have been in their shoes and know what it takes to reach their goals. We do this in three ways:
1. Tuff Talks - Motivational speeches from successful collegiate or professional athletes
2. Providing informal mentorship at the TUFF donation events
3. Exchanging contact information with players on the teams and making it a priority to explain that we are here for them.
We provide mentorship with the hopes to change the trajectory of youth athletes' lives; the uniforms and equipment that we donate will only last so long, but the mentorship we provide will last forever.
Donations made to this GoFundMe charity fundraiser are guaranteed to be tax-deductible and will receive tax receipts.
At TUFF, we are beyond thankful for any donation amount that we receive. Our specific donation levels are described below. 100% of your generous donations will go towards ensuring that every underserved youth athlete is provided updated uniforms and equipment, mentorship, and the ability to play sports!
Football - "Adopt-A-Team" - $4,000 / 1 Youth Athlete - $100
Basketball - "Adopt-A-Team" - $1,500 / 1 Youth Athlete - $100
If you Adopt-A-Team for the amount of $4,000 (Football) $1,500 (Basketball), you have the option to have the uniform donation made in your name, i.e. “John Smith Donation”
Notable Adopt-A-Team Donors: Christian McCaffrey, Adam Schefter, Maria Taylor, Ben Gedeon, Jake Ryan, Ed & Lisa McCaffrey
Thank you for reading about TUFF!
If you would like to learn more about how we utilize our funds, we highly recommend reading the story below. It is a prime example of the communities we operate in and the work we do, and we know it will be worth your time!
A Look at the Schools & Athletes We Donate to :
John Adams High School is a public school located on the eastside of Cleveland, Ohio. After a small donation of 7 on 7 helmets to their football program in May, TUFF was blown away by their gratitude and how we were welcomed into their family. We took the time to speak with three varsity football captains, Rufus Hamm Jr., Tremond Luke, and James King Jr., as well as AD Carolyn Riley in order to better understand their community and athletic environment.
John Adams' goal regarding football equipment is to simply "be in compliance with the safety regulations", yet many times this is difficult and almost impossible. For example, girdles and cleats are a necessity to play football, yet many players do not have the money to pay for either. Something as simple as a pair of gloves, which oftentimes are considered a necessity to play, is seen as a luxury at John Adams. Referees have even threatened to end multiple games due to the players not being properly equipped. These issues, along with others including monetary issues to refurbish helmets and shoulder pads, are examples where they have to pull together and "get by."
Off the Field Challenges
Outside of school and athletics, many student-athletes on the John Adam's football team face significant obstacles. Basic needs such as food, water, and shelter "are definitely in question a lot of the time for the good portion" of their students. However, football becomes an outlet, and James King Jr. shed light on this stating, "A lot of our friends and family are getting killed, so instead of doing the wrong things, a lot of us take to football when our people die." Tremond Luke agreed with this statement, adding, "A lot of teammates don't even talk about family issues because 90% go through them. Football becomes an outlet and all that stuff goes out the window."
While football is an outlet, it additionally teaches great lessons such as discipline, teamwork, hard-work and resilience. Being an athletic director and a science teacher, AD Carolyn Riley has seen how football shapes her student-athletes. She believes sports are "what can separate them from wanting to strive and have an opportunity post high school, versus that unfortunate outcome their zip code can put them into." She has even seen players taking leadership roles and holding their teammates accountable academically before teachers have to.
This is all to say that the football players at John Adams do not feel bad for themselves or look for pity. They do not sit around and think about all the resources that they lack for reasons out of their control. Instead, they go out and "make do without making any excuses."
The players on the team that are fortunate enough to own more than one pair of cleats often give the extra pair to other teammates in need. Due to the fact they do not have an adequate weight room, they perform bodyweight exercises to improve their physical condition. For the very few usable pieces of strength equipment they have, they make sure to keep it functional by duct taping parts that no longer stay attached to the machines. If they do not have transportation to football, they find a way; rising senior Darryl Williams tore his ACL, yet bikes 30 minutes to and from football every single day.
However, the fact of the matter is it doesn't have to be this way. They shouldn't be treated differently because of the zip code they live in. They deserve to be treated EQUALLY and have just as many opportunities as any other school.
What TUFF Plans to do
We have decided to donate uniforms with the quality of those worn at the collegiate level to John Adams’s Football, and their Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams. Our goal is to additionally donate a brand new pair of cleats, shoes, and girdles to each player, ensuring that they'll never have to struggle to find them for an upcoming game.
Last month, the TUFF Team and 15 Michigan Wolverine football players traveled to Cleveland, Ohio and had the opportunity to spend time and get to know the current John Adams Football Team. Our friendships have continued to grow through conversations on the phone and through social media. We will commit to continued mentorship as collegiate athletes by furthering relationships with their teams in every way we possibly can.
Thank you for your contributions
All of your generous donations will go towards helping John Adams, and the many schools in their situation. We are on a mission to ensure that every young student-athlete has an equal opportunity to play sports and reap all of its life-changing benefits!