AVP First Taking Volleyball to the Streets

AVP First Executive Director Tony Giarla, Sports Philanthropy Network Founder Roy Kessel, AVP First’s Josh Berger on site at GOALS in Anaheim.

Nestled among an array of homes in the ABC neighborhood of Anaheim, a place few want to venture, AVP First is in the process of building a partnership with GOALS (see more details about GOALS here) to put in a sand volleyball court.

The surprising part of this initiative is that AVP First is trying to “Take Volleyball to the Streets” by serving kids who have never been to the beach, despite living just a few miles from the ocean.  A concept that is almost incomprehensible for people who live in most parts of the country, these kids are frequently locked into their neighborhoods due to economic or safety restrictions.

AVP First’s Mission is to expand and grow the sport of beach volleyball by providing the opportunity to underserved communities around the country.  One of the really interesting initiatives, is that AVP First partners with community organizations, not only to give them and outstanding day of fun, but more importantly, a year-round program that develops them as a person and as a volleyball player.

We had the chance to sit down with Executive Director Tony Giarla to learn more about how AVP First operates in the communities.  Tony comes with a strong pedigree from the non-profit sector having worked in some of Los Angeles’ toughest communities.  Tony’s foray into volleyball came upon the recommendation of a prior board member who suggested that he apply for the opportunity to expand the AVP brand into the communities.

In his short tenure since 2015, Tony has successfully created ongoing revenue streams that reduce the organization’s reliance on direct funding from AVP.  His energy and vision are contagious as you can see how intently he is planning to grow the organization.  Recently, the organization brought in a Development Assistant as well as a Program Assistant. 

What truly sets AVP First apart from many other nonprofits, is that they intentionally do not control any of the sites for their programs.  Their model is built on partnerships with organizations like GOALS where AVP First comes in with its volleyball expertise, athletes and equipment.   In those settings, AVP First ensures that it can continue to provide high level programs to the communities it serves.

With the “Taking Volleyball to the Streets” mantra, AVP First certainly has a lot of ground to conquer in the coming years.  To learn more about the organizations, visit their website at www.AVPFirst.org and make sure you keep you eyes open for the upcoming podcast where Tony shares more of his vision for the organization!

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel is the Founder of the Sports Philanthropy Network. Roy has worked in the sports business world for over 20 years including serving as an instructor in Northwestern University's graduate Sports Management Program. Having served as a sports lawyer representing athletes, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, Roy has extensive experience helping organizations improve their strategy, marketing, communications and leadership development.
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