Three million dollars in grants have been awarded by the NAILBA Foundation since its inception. This past year there were several wonderful charities that were the recipients of grants due to the generosity of others and one of those organizations, Opportunity on Deck, is making a huge impact yet relies solely on grants provided to children’s charities.
While other teens were playing video games, Dylan DeClerck conceptualized the need for Opportunity on Deck and founded the organization when he was 16. Now in his twenties, Dylan is passing it forward, building up Central Iowa communities by getting kids off the couches and on to fields and courts with a variety of sports-based youth programs including athletic leagues, camps, college visits and leadership development programs.
“We don’t want to confuse anyone. Opportunity on Deck presents itself as a free sports league where all participants from kindergarten to eighth grade enjoy free programming, free sports equipment and where families are fed at every practice and game. However, it’s much more than that—we’re building up communities, teaching life-long values, embracing diversity, and preparing youth for their educational and employment future. The mentors and coaches who they get to hear from share their success stories and they inspire the kids in our programs to set goals and to reach higher,” stated DeClerck. “Iowa schools and parents are reporting on the difference our programs make and we are so proud of our kids.”
Opportunity on Deck also relies on financial and insurance companies to get involved with their own matching donations programs and by hosting the volunteers for two nights during any given clinic. Many also host equipment drives through RePlay—DeClerck’s other charitable venture that outfits kids with needed shoes, equipment and attire. All programming is always at no charge to every participant.
“Without the NAILBA grant we would not be in a position to provide our spring soccer programming, positive role models, life-long value instruction and community development to almost 500 youths in five different low-income communities. Look for our kids to make a difference themselves someday (and perhaps work for your financial company) and as for the volunteers, they get back as much as they give,” stated DeClerck.
To learn more about Opportunity on Deck or make a donation, visit www.opportunityondeck.org. Phone: 515-422-4123. Email: communication@opportunityon deck.org.