NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local youth sports program is expanding thanks to a generous grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

Volley Power is part of the non-profit The Champion Project which aims to give every kid the opportunity to find joy through sports.

Volley Power started before the pandemic but this is the first year it’s in action.

The Champion Project is the non-profit arm of Niagara-Frontier Sports and runs programming in schools, the community, and in-house.

“The mission of The Champion Project is that we can provide low to no cost high-quality sports programming to kids across Western New York. It’s our vision that we can allow all kids across Western New York to find joy through sport,” said executive director Kate Braun.

She said this grant will allow Volley Power to expand into Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Lackawanna.

Most of the programming has been in the Buffalo area thus far.

“I know how many kids don’t have access to the programming we’re providing within our building so to be able to go out into the community and do school-based and community-based programs where we take those transportation barriers away, we take those cost barriers away, we are able to give kids so many opportunities and every child should have an opportunity to play sport not just families that can financially support it.”

Volley Power also partners with local colleges to train student athletes to become assistant coaches for the program.

Donald Gleason is the associate director and works with both the college-age and younger students.

“It’s a smaller, niche sport the fact that we’re getting more funding we can get out and see more sights we can expand our coaching, it’s just great for the growth of our program,” said Gleason.

The grant will last a three year period and the programs in the districts will begin this fall.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.