Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program

Service Type: Consulting Engagement

Topic: Marketing Strategy

Year: 2021

Location: New York

Organization Mission & Overview

The Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP) has been dedicated to the boys and girls in Central Harlem for over 50 years.  HJTEP provides high-caliber tennis training coupled with comprehensive support, particularly for students from low-income neighborhoods.

HJTEP serves approximately 800 students during the school year plus 150-300 in summer programs, fostering academic success, providing SAT/ACT preparation, and offering nutrition guidance. Their players maintain an impressive GPA of 3.1 and 90% graduate. The pandemic has heightened existing opportunity gaps for low-income students, making HJTEP’s services even more crucial. To bridge this gap, HJTEP sought to enhance communication about its multifaceted programs, emphasizing the broader educational impact alongside tennis. The communication strategy aligns with strategic priorities, aiming to highlight the organization’s holistic work and clarify its goals for the community and stakeholders.


HJTEP faced the communications challenge; they were primarily associated with tennis and not seen as a holistic youth development program. With the pandemic exacerbating educational disparities, there was a pressing need to communicate the broader support provided by HJTEP. PennPAC was brought in to create a communication strategy aimed at reshaping perceptions, positioning HJTEP as an indispensable and positive member of the NYC community, and expanding its brand beyond tennis to encompass educational wellness. PennPAC’s engagement refocused HJTEP’s communication to reflect the importance of education, ensuring that stakeholders understood the organization’s multifaceted approach.

PennPAC Approach

The PennPAC team’s approach began by conducting 16 interviews conducted with a range of stakeholders, including donors, parents, students, alumni, staff, and external experts. The team gained insights into HJTEP’s strengths and areas for improvement. The research extended to evaluating peer nonprofits, media placements, and social media practices to inform a comprehensive approach. A review of social media practices and a thorough assessment of HJTEP’s digital communication platforms were conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed enhancements. The goal was to provide HJTEP with a well-rounded understanding of successful nonprofit communication strategies, aligning recommendations with industry best practices.

Recommendations & Results 

The recommendations PennPAC provided included a refined positioning statement, stakeholder-specific messaging points, updated marketing materials, website improvements, SEO tactics, and campaign ideas for HJTEP’s upcoming 50th anniversary. HJTEP diligently implemented these suggestions, resulting in one of its most successful galas in the organization’s history. The impact was evident in strengthened fundraising, heightened community engagement, and increased digital interaction across the website and social media platforms.

“We’ve had the great fortune of working with PennPAC on two consulting engagements. During the first project, the focus was on marketing and communications. The advice was so helpful and thoughtful that we followed it to a T. We redid our website and brochures and the results of this project led to one of our most successful galas! And successful in so many ways – stronger fundraising, increased awareness, and higher digital engagement overall.”

- Katrina Adams, Executive Director, HJTEP