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It’s Philadelphia’s year for sports. The Phillies are heading to the World Series, the Eagles are 6-0, and with a VIP volunteer’s help, Leveling the Playing Field is helping kids across Pennsylvania and New Jersey in underserved communities have access to youth sports.
“The pandemic has really laid bare for a lot of people how valuable it is that kids are socializing and exercising and being outside with friends,” founder Max Levitt said. “There’s a growing gap between those that can afford to play sports and those that can’t. It’s not free, and it’s not accessible to a lot of communities.”
This is where Leveling the Playing Field steps in. They gather equipment from the community, including professional sports teams like the Eagles, the Flyers, and the 76ers, and distribute it to recreation centers, boys and girls clubs, YMCAs, or any organization or school that needs equipment. Before they could help Philadelphia, though, they needed some help from VIP. Leveling the Playing Field was founded in Washington, D.C., but Levitt knew that he wanted to expand to Philadelphia.
“Philly is a sports town,” Levitt said. “And the kids look up to their city’s professional athletes in a way a lot of cities don’t. It seemed like the perfect place for us to exist.”
Leveling the Playing Field was already recognized as a charitable organization in other states, but needed to transfer this status to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Levitt said that as a small non-profit, they didn’t have much of a legal budget. “I was wondering how we were going to pull it off,” Levitt said. “To me, time is money. And I didn’t have the time or the money to cold call law firms for pro bono help. But then I heard of Philly VIP and reached out for help. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to get the paperwork through to be considered and how I was matched up with an attorney to help us with this.”
Thanks to a volunteer attorney, Leveling the Playing Field was able to move forward with an audit and receive recognition as a charitable organization in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “Having a place like Philadelphia VIP, where we are able to get some difficult boxes checked with only a few emails from me is incredible,” Levitt said. “Any nonprofit or small business owner will tell you that they’re wearing a million different hats. There is not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done. So having this audit worked through and solved was a big deal to us.”