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2021 Robert P. & Barbara D. Harris Grant Now Open!

We are happy to announce the Robert P & Barbara D Harris Fund is now open for 2021.

This grant was established by the Harris family to honor and recognize Robert P and Barbara D Harris for a lifetime of charitable activities, community service and a love of tennis. They were both graduates of Michigan State University (MSU) - Robert in Chemical Engineering and Barbara in Medical Technology. They met in Cadillac, Michigan after Robert returned from Naval service in the Pacific in WWII. After a brief courtship they married and returned to Robert's hometown of Flint, Michigan, where all three of their children were born.

Robert embarked on a 45-year career as a co-owner and then owner of SKS Heat Treating. Robert and Barbara actively gave back to the community during this time through Robert's service on the Flint School board culminating in his appointment of President. Barbara was consistently active in the Junior League as well as with the Flint college and cultural association and PEO, an organization which supports women in education. These activities along with innumerable less visible acts of community related kindness made a deep impression on their children and all that knew them. Robert learned tennis while growing up during the depression in a local public park. He played 1st singles for Flint Central High School, and then played four years at MSU lettering in his last three years.

Raising a family and owning a business kept Robert from playing again until his mid-50's when he played at the Genesee Valley Tennis Club in Flint, playing competitively in Florida into his 70's after retiring. Barbara and Robert embodied respect and concern for others and the community in general. They established this community tennis grant to continue to help the people served by the USTA/ Midwest Section benefit from their legacy in a lasting way.

The deadline to apply for this grant for 2021 is July 31. This program grant is for organizations seeking funds up to $2,500 to start or expand tennis programming in their community. Funding can be used to develop instructional programs, organize league play for all ages, abilities and populations, to create tournament play, and/or anything that encourages long term growth of tennis in the community. All applications may be submitted under the grant link titled the Robert P & Barbara D Harris Community Tennis Grant.

Check Out Past Winners Below

Support from our Harris grant allowed us to provide free instruction to more than 600 Chicago Park District day campers! Nearly three-quarters of those had never played tennis before; so, the grant directly introduced the game to 450 new players!

Jill Siegel ED

“The generous grant from the Robert P and Barbara D Harris Fund helped with the expansion of our free afterschool program! Students received racquets and balls so that they could take part in virtual lessons last year, and the students recently returned to in-person instruction. Support from the Harris Fund has made tennis more accessible to children who otherwise might not have been introduced to the game.”

Dax Lowery

Executive Director NJTL of Indianapolis |

Thanks to the grant made through the Robert P and Barbara D Harris Fund, The ACE Project was able to relaunch in-person programs in Southland Chicago. Youth benefited from daily tennis instruction, peer-to-peer socialization, adult mentorship, and rotating activities, such as art therapy, academic enrichment, digital literacy, and reading support. Following the completion of the 8-week season, we asked participants’ parents to provide feedback on the program; we received this message from Elizabeth, mother of ACE-er Taylor: “With the pandemic happening this organization provided safety and socialization for my child. The staff were welcoming and the children happy. It was much needed and greatly appreciated. While e-learning at home every day could be a challenge for parents and child, my daughter was able to continue the sport that she loves and meet new friends." The ACE Project is so grateful for the support from the Robert P and Barbara D Harris Fund; it transformed our service in 2020, making the impossible possible.

Susan Klumpner

The ACE Project


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