Local nonprofit Skate After School looks to expand after influx of funding

Skate After School, which offers after-school programs for lower-income children in the greater Phoenix area, is looking to expand after receiving a recent surge in funding.

The nonprofit organization, co-founded by Tim Ward, Bobby Green and Ryan Lay, was awarded a $15,000 grant during Seed Spot’s Demo Day in June and raised $13,050 through an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, which ended July 5.

Lay, who served as Skate After School’s leader during the Seed Spot venture program, had to prepare to speak and persuade investors to back his business plan before giving the pitch on Demo Day, which took place June 5.

“We had to practice in front of investors and donors every Friday — it’s called venture pitch Friday — and I had to do that over the course of probably two months,” Lay said. “And I went from terrible, like people told me they wanted to boo me off the stage, to finally having my act together. And so, by the time demo day came, I was really prepared.”

The preparation paid off for Lay and Skate After School, which received a $15,000 grant from the Pakis Family Foundation after the presentation.

“We knew that there was a prize for nonprofits — it was up to $25 grand — and so we kind of were aware that there were only going to be a few nonprofits that were pitching,” Lay said. “So yeah, when we found out we were the winners, it was a crazy moment.”

Aside from grant funding, the organization also launched the Indiegogo campaign and offered incentives to donors, such as Skate After School apparel, sponsorship for a school or a special trick performed by volunteers. Lay said the purpose of the crowd funding campaign was to raise awareness about Skate After School and get the community involved. The funds raised from the campaign will help with administrative and business needs for the nonprofit.

“Our main goal right now is we need to get a comprehensive insurance policy… because that’s really pressing,” Lay said. “And then we are going to be building ramps and props for the kids at the schools, and then we also need to file our 501(c)3, so that we are officially our nonprofit; because right now we are housed under the Arizona Community Foundation.”

Courtney Klein, co-founder and CEO of Seed Spot, said she was impressed with how Skate After School progressed through the rigorous 16-week program. Klein said they came into the program not knowing how to make a viable business plan, but ended up having a clear path to secure funding.

“I think Seed Spot really helped them identify the challenges and the solutions to bring the idea to scale,” Klein said. “… When you think about 30 schools and 100 volunteers, I think Seed Spot really provided them with a solid business model and a way to accomplish that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to receive quickly.”

Skate After School will remain involved with Seed Spot as a member of its alumni program, which will give the nonprofit organization continued access to Seed Spot’s connections and resources.

“The alumni program will provide them with ongoing support, so they’ll have continued access to the Seed Spot network,” Klein said. “They’ll be able to attend educational events, they’ll be able to use the office space and we lean pretty heavily into the alumni and make sure they have all the support and resources that they need.”

Lay, who plans on attending ASU next year, said they are looking for a way to gather data and research how Skate After School specifically impacts children and schools.

“It’d be great if we could get someone who studies statistics at ASU to come and help us with that research, like how Skate After School affects attendance rates or grades, because that’s the information we really need right now,” he said.

Reach the reporter at slogan2@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @SeanLogan24