(WWTI) — Although the pandemic delayed the process, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association has officially launched its own foundation to help support its member schools and their stakeholders.

The concept for the foundation began at a strategic planning session in 2016. The foundation was then approved by the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee, and staff conducted research, assembled a steering committee, and established a set of bylaws to govern the new 501(c)(3) organization.

According to NYSPHSAA, the foundation will begin developing a fund balance and then make grant opportunities available. The grants will work to support strategic initiatives involving increased student participation opportunities, coaches professional development, and the recruitment and retention of officials.

NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said the creation of the foundation was an exciting movement for the association as a whole.

“The creation of the NYSPHSAA Foundation is an important day in the history of the Association,” Zayas said. “To create a Foundation that will allow us to create new opportunities for our member schools is a tremendous resource to our student-athletes. We are excited to launch this new endeavor which is the first of its kind in the 99-year history of the NYSPHSAA.”

Day-to-day operations of the foundation will be managed by a member of the NYSPHSAA staff with guidance from a Board of Directors consisting of one representative from each of the eleven NYSPHSAA sections. NYSPHSAA Foundation President Gavin M. Regan stated that he’s looking forward to working with the group of selected members.

“I am honored to be working with such a great group of newly selected board members,” Regan said. “We are all excited to get to work and start raising money to help our member schools and student-athletes across our sections.”

To kick off fundraising the American Dairy Association North East pledged $5,000 to the foundation. For those interested in making a tax-deductible donation or learning more about the NYSPHSAA Foundation should visit the foundation’s website.