A Brief History 2017-11-21T16:25:09+00:00

The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation: A Brief History

1955 Incorporated as the “District of Columbia Tennis Patrons Foundation,” the organization’s modest ambition is to pay travel expenses for a small number of promising junior tennis players.

1967 The Foundation changes its name to the “Washington Area Tennis Patrons Foundation” (WATPF) and funds a free inner-city summer day camp.

1969 The Foundation converts several of the 16th Street tennis courts into a tournament facility and stadium so that it can fund WTEF programs by hosting a men’s tennis event.

1970 Foundation funds enable the start of a Washington, DC chapter of the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL), a team-oriented summer recreational program geared toward minorities.

1973 The Foundation expands NJTL to the Maryland suburbs and offers its first winter programs.

1981 The Foundation brings NJTL to the Virginia suburbs and hires its first full-time, year-round staff.

1988 Arthur Ashe presides at groundbreaking ceremonies for a new Tennis Center and Foundation headquarters at the newly completed William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

1991 In recognition of the Foundation’s work, Washington is named “City of the Year” by the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

1993 The Arthur Ashe Children’s Program is introduced in five Southeast Washington elementary schools.

1995 The Capital Tennis Challenge is launched to increase support of the Foundation’s year-round programs.

1997 The Center for Excellence, a college preparatory program, is launched.

1998 Reflecting its commitment to education, as well as to tennis, the Foundation changes its name to the “Washington Tennis & Education Foundation” (WTEF).

1999 WTEF opens the Arthur Ashe Reading Is Fundamental Room.  Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams serves as the first inductee into WTEF’s “Celebrity All-Star Reading Team.”

2000 Named “USTA National Organization of the Year,” WTEF marks the first time the United States Tennis Association (USTA) expands its traditional definition of a “tennis organization” to include a program with dual objectives focusing equally on tennis and education.

2003 After a year-long in-depth review of the Foundation’s operations and strategic plan, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation awards WTEF a $1 million multi-year grant to help the Foundation pursue its strategic plan. 

2004 The USTA honors WTEF as the NJTL “Chapter of the Year.”

2005 WTEF celebrates its 50th Anniversary of serving by helping change the lives of Washington’s most at-risk children.

2007 WTEF was chosen for inclusion in the selective DC Catalogue for Philanthropy. Selection was made on the basis of distinction, merit, cost effectiveness and accomplishments. Catalogue reviewers and staff stated that WTEF “is one of the finest smaller charities Greater Washington has to offer!”

2008 WTEF was named The Washington Post Award Winner for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. The award was made in recognition of WTEF’s programs and its “outstanding board involvement, diversified fundraising practices, effective use of employees and volunteers, and sound financial management practices.”

2009  Executive Director, Eleni Rossides was one of three winners of the Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman EXCEL Award, recognizing and honoring outstanding nonprofit leaders. Candidates must show excellence in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership.

2010  WTEF was named Community Tennis Association of the Year by the USTA for its innovative tennis and educational programs, that teach children values and life skills that help them succeed in all aspects of life as responsible and productive citizens of their communities.

2011  WTEF received a $2.2 million dollar New Market Tax Credit to begin construction of the new $10.2 million dollar facility in Southeast DC.

2012  WTEF opened the doors of the state-of-the-art Tennis, Academic, and Community Center in Ward 7, Southeast DC, central to the schools and homes of the children WTEF serves.

2013  WTEF inaugurated a one-of-a-kind Tennis Tots program to provide free weekly tennis instruction to children ages two to five. 

2014 WTEF completed its first full year of programming at the East Capitol Campus

2015 WTEF celebrated its 60th anniversary of serving by helping change the lives of Washington’s most at-risk children

2016 The 2016 Tennis Ball was the most successful gala in WTEF history in terms of revenue generated: approximately $1.2 million in proceeds.