Who she is: Lindsey Cronin Kittredge is the co-founder and executive director of Boston-based Shooting Touch, Inc., an organization that harnesses the power of basketball to elevate the health, education, and opportunities of youths and young adults around the world.
What she does: “We established a year-round program that provides inner-city and suburban youth with opportunities for development, both on and off the court,” Kittredge says. “Internationally, our Shooting Touch Sabbatical Program, known as the “Basketball Peace Corps,” provides the opportunity for gifted college graduates to work in Rwanda, dedicating an entire year of service to using basketball as a catalyst for good.”
Why she does it: Kittredge and her husband founded Shooting Touch in 2007—a process that she says was very organic. “My husband, Justin, is a passionate basketball lover and coach who was working with under-served youth in and around Boston,” Kittredge explains. “He was teaching them about basketball fundamentals and offering mentoring skills off the court. He knew that the kids could not otherwise afford a mainstream basketball camp or clinic—and they showed up every week, grateful and happy.”
Shooting for Profound Change: One Basket at a Time
Kittredge was working as marketing, sales, and PR specialist in the real estate industry when opportunity knocked.
“I enjoyed what I was doing, but I could never wrap my brain around what purpose I was serving,” admits Kittredge, an athlete who played D1 lacrosse in college who became an endurance runner.
When her husband’s basketball clinics started to grow dramatically, they realized there was an obvious need for the education he was providing—on and off the court.
“And not just inner-city youth,” Kittredge realized. “But for suburban youths of all levels as well — including kids outside the US.”
As a publicist and jock, Kittredge says she always found sports to be an effective way to reach people.
“So when my job required me to travel around the country shortly after the birth of our first child, I realized that now was the time to focus on this inner calling of mine and re-direct my sails.”
Soon after, the couple put their heads and hearts together—and Shooting Touch was born.
In the years since, the organization has shifted from a local Boston basketball program to an international NGO working in seven countries, and impacting thousands of youths globally each year.
Its board of directors includes NBA players, coaches, Hall of Famers, and ESPN broadcasters. And, its sponsors are Reebok, Powerade, and Muscle Milk, among others.
“We hope to resonate with audiences of all ages who love the power of sports and the positive impact it has on the lives of others,” says Kittredge, whose players in the Boston Shooting Touch program range from 3rd graders to college seniors. Its international program, which currently operates in Rwanda, works with children 10 to 18 years old.
“We have built courts around the world in places where the sport of basketball did not otherwise exist,” Kittredge shares. “We have given AIDS orphans—in desolate places like rural Gulati, Zimbabwe—a place to play and experience joy. And, we have given purpose and opportunities to girls in Rwanda, who would never have been introduced to nor allowed the opportunity to play sports at all.”
In addition, Shooting Touch has:
- Provided more than 100 summer basketball camp scholarships to girls and boys from Boston neighborhoods, such as Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester. “For one week in the middle of July, these kids are happy learning basketball from the best high school coach ever to teach the game—Hall of Fame Inductee Coach Bob Hurley.”
- Given six college graduates the opportunity of a lifetime to leave the country after graduation, travel, and work in a foreign country using the game that they love to educate—and in some cases—save lives.
- And, “we have helped ourselves by understanding fully that it is so much more rewarding to give than receive.”
“There is enormous satisfaction and purpose in helping the lives of others,” Kittredge insists. “If you simply have an idea, and the will and persistence to see it through, big change can occur—for yourself, and for others.
What are Kittredge’s biggest challenges?
“Growing an NGO on a shoestring annual budget of $150,000 is not easy, but we know that what we are doing is critical to so many kids’ lives,” she says. “Our goal for 2014 is to secure more funding—a lot more funding—so that we can improve our resources in Africa and in our own backyard of Beantown. We are passionate about our cause, and we look forward to achieving the amazing heights we know we will soar to.”
For more information, visit shootingtouch.com.