Grassroots Health

College athletes coaching students to a healthier future

Washington, DC   |


Grassroots Health advances health equity in cities by using sports to re-imagine health education in middle schools and mobilizing NCAA athletes as health educators and role models for youth.

Ruling year info


Founder and Executive Director

Tyler Spencer Ph.D.

Main address

1400 L St NW, Lobby 2 PO Box #34122

Washington, DC 20043 USA

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Formerly known as

Athletes United for Social Justice

The Grassroot Project



NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Public Health Program (E70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

School-based and Community-based Adolescent Health Education

We partner with middle schools to provide free and innovative sports-based health education programs, and we partner with local organizations and government health departments to provide health education and health screenings at community events.

Our innovative model uses non-traditional health educators (NCAA student-athlete role models) to build trusting relationships where teens are able to learn the basics and openly discuss sensitive issues related to their health. Our curriculum has been proven effective in reducing health disparities by a rigorous experimental design.

Population(s) Served

Each year we recruit and train NCAA varsity athletes to become volunteer health educators. After undergoing a 4-day training in curriculum delivery, health literacy, cultural competency, and classroom management, our volunteers facilitate our health education programs during middle school P.E. classes.

Our athletes are not just volunteers at Grassroots Health—they help drive our day-to-day operations at all levels. As a result of their participation as health educators and as members of our “Leadership Team,” many of our athletes have been inspired to pursue careers in the public sector, from going to medical school to entering the Peace Corps and Teach for America.

Population(s) Served

We believe that evaluating the impact of our work should not be an afterthought or a simple administrative task. Research and evaluation are core to our organizational culture. We collect real-time data on the outputs and outcomes of our athlete trainings and our school and community-based health education programs, and we are constantly analyzing data to see what we’ve done really well and where we can improve. Over the past seven years, we have also partnered with external groups to conduct three separate independent evaluations of our work. As we aspire to scale up our programs, we also think it is critical that we share both our success and our failures. For this reason, we constantly look for opportunities to speak at conferences, share our white papers, and learn from what others are doing in the public health and youth development sectors.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Named one of the best non-profits in DC 2018

Catalogue for Philanthropy

Honored Commitment to Action 2011

Clinton Global Initiative University

Staying Alive Award 2009

MTV Staying Alive Foundation

Winner, Health Competition 2018

Many Hands Giving Circle

Charity Beneficiary 2018

Hexagon DC

Back Your Block Award 2009


Community Impact Award 2021


National Youth Sports Strategy Champion 2021


David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Award 2020

Greater Washington Community Foundation

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students completing TGP health education program.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

School-based and Community-based Adolescent Health Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

In 2017, we reduced the number of schools we work with in order to deepen our impact on each student. We added new curricular components , and we now reach students for a longer period of time.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our work is divided into three main program areas: (1) school-based and community-based adolescent health education; (2) NCAA student-athlete social engagement and leadership development; and (3) curriculum development, evaluation, and communication.

Through our school-based and community-based adolescent health education programs, our goal is to drive down adolescent health disparities in our city.

Through our NCAA student-athlete social engagement and leadership development programs, we aim to empower our student-athlete volunteers to become agents of social change.

Through our curriculum development, evaluation, and communication programs, we aim to become a national thought leader in generating, testing, and sharing best practices for youth development.

Please see our attached strategic plan.

We developed our programs and established rapport in DC through years of grassroots growth. Our current staff includes an Executive Director, a Director of Programs/Operations, a Senior Program Manager, a Development and Communications Manager, and more than 60 volunteers.

Our Executive Director has been involved in the leadership of The Grassroot Project since its beginning in 2009. He is a Rhodes Scholar with a PhD in Public Health from the University of Oxford, and he has also served as a global health consultant for the United Nations and a large HIV/AIDS donor agency. He has brokered partnerships, raised funds, and overseen the implementation and evaluation of our programs for more than nine years. Our Director of Programs/Operations has worked as a community organizer, health advocate, and program manager for more than 8 years. Our Senior Program Manager was handpicked from more than 300 applicants through our partnership with Global Health Corps. She brings extensive training in public health and nonprofit management into her role. Our Development and Communications manager has over twelve years of experience working in education and non-profit development.

Last but not least, our volunteers serve as the core implementers of our organization's school-based programs. They are all between the ages of 18-22, and they come from four local universities. All volunteers undergo a two-weekend training to become effective program facilitators.

Since 2009, The Grassroot Project has trained more than 1,500 NCAA athletes to facilitate health education programs for more than 10,000 youth. A quasi-experimental trial demonstrated that our programs have been effective in significantly improving health literacy among middle school students.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Grassroots Health

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Grassroots Health

Board of directors
as of 08/28/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Christine Campbell

Board co-chair

Deidra Suber

Tyler Spencer

Grassroots Health

Richard Livingstone

DC Mayor's Office of Community Relations and Services

Ugwechi Amadi


Christine Campbell


Deidra Suber


Craig Lejeune

The Economic Club of Washington D.C.

Nick Turk


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/5/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/05/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.