November 2, 2020 Newsletter

A Letter from Song Thao, Executive Director

Executive Director, Song Thao

Saint Paul Urban Tennis Helps the Eastview Community Thrive

In 2021, Saint Paul Urban Tennis will mark 30 years of providing St. Paul youth with tennis, education, leadership and employment programs. When we moved our headquarters to Eastview Rec Center in 2017, the building had been closed for 10 years. Crime was prevalent in the neighborhood and surrounding community. Our great partner, the City of St. Paul, refurbished the facility for SPUT and recently built a new playground in front of our building.

New Eastview Courts

SPUT is proud to provide healthy, positive activity for kids at Eastview Park, in addition to sites throughout St. Paul. Before recreation centers closed due to Covid-19, our gym was filled with youth connecting through basketball. Many other east side kids enjoy tennis lesson programs and camps on Eastview’s two outdoor tennis courts. In early October, thanks to kind donors and partners, SPUT was able to build five additional tennis courts at Eastview Park, in response to the shortage of courts in east St. Paul. Eastview is now a place where many more east side kids can learn tennis, work in jobs at SPUT, and participate in our Warrior Leadership Academy.

SPUT is Supporting Kids Through This Challenging Season

The pandemic has made this a unique season for everyone, and SPUT has persevered for our kids. In addition to completing the new courts, we were able to safely offer summer and fall youth tennis programming by requiring masks and reducing class sizes by 50% to ensure ample social distancing. More than 50 high school youth were able to earn money as SPUT coaches while providing healthy activity and positive roles models for 600+ kids.

Middle School Girls Team Participant

Saint Paul Urban Tennis has also responded to an event, and a movement, that rocked our community. After the tragic death of George Floyd, our team has had multiple “community conversations” about what SPUT can do, and do better, to help youth from all backgrounds and perspectives feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our programs. A community and program plan is being developed to include additional ways SPUT can continue to support and strengthen our community during these challenging times. We hope to share this with you all very soon.

As we go into our 30th year, the SPUT Team thanks you for your support at a time when families need us most.


Song Thao, Executive Director

SPUT Warrior Leadership Academy Students ‘Zoom’ Into 2020-21 Year

Fifty-five St. Paul high school students kicked off the Warrior Leadership Academy (WLA) year with a virtual retreat focused on teambuilding and what it means to be a “warrior” and a leader. “Students learned that leaders are community-oriented with a cause in mind that they are willing to work toward,” said Program Director Josh Connell. Students also read the poem “Autobiography in Five Chapters” and reflected on their own “first five chapters.” In the coming months, Warriors will learn from monthly leadership, personal development, career exploration and service experiences.

Buy SPUT Holiday Gifts at the Online SPUT Store Through November 27

Want a creative holiday gift that supports youth in our community? You can purchase SPUT SPIRIT Spiral Candles, masks branded with the SPUT logo and more, for family and friends at Funds raised go to scholarships to enable all kids to participate in Saint Paul Urban Tennis programs.

SPUT Celebrates Youth Coaches with Special Awards

More than 50 high school and college students completed safety training for jobs as youth coaches for SPUT’s 2020 Summer and Fall programs and camps. Below are youth deserving of special recognition this year:

St. Paul High School Students Combine SPUT Jobs with Time to Focus on College, Careers

Sixteen busy St. Paul high school students will have paid jobs with time to explore college and career options as workers in SPUT’s Employment PLUS program. Youth will combine paid work assignments as SPUT program, office, and facility assistants with “PLUS” time for college and career research, college and workplace visits, and meetings with a career mentor. If you would like to mentor an Employment PLUS student (by virtual meetings), please email

Support Scholarships and Jobs for SPUT Youth on Give to the Max Day, Thursday, Nov. 19

Give to the Max Day on Thursday, Nov. 19, is Minnesota’s annual day to celebrate charitable giving. Please consider donating for SPUT kids that day. You don’t have to wait—early giving is open now! Please consider giving small donations early and often, to put SPUT in the running for additional prizes:

  • A $500 Early Giving Golden Ticket awarded for one randomly-drawn donation, each day through Nov. 19.
  • $1,000 Hourly Golden Tickets awarded for one randomly-drawn donation at the end of each hour on Give to the Max Day (Nov. 19)
  • A $10,000 Super-Sized Golden Ticket drawn at the end of Give to the Max Day from all donations made through Nov. 19.

Simply visit to participate!

Thony Thao Takes on SPUT Community Engagement Role

Community Engagement and Recreation Manager, Thony Thao

Saint Paul Urban Tennis is committed to creating community partnerships that benefit kids. SPUT recently welcomed Tony Thao as Community Engagement and Recreation Manager, a role previously held by Johnny Yang. (Yang left SPUT for an internship opportunity at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls). Thao graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in recreation management. His duties include managing programming at Eastview Rec Center (SPUT’s headquarters), coordinating tennis community engagement programs, and working with youth in SPUT’s Employment PLUS program. Great to have you on board Thony!

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