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To promote the game of Rugby Football and use the sport as a mentoring tool to engage at-risk youth in Pittsburgh's Inner-city neighborhoods.
The Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Association (PHRFA) was founded in 1995 as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit youth mentoring organization. The PHRFA uses a volunteer network of nationally certified rugby coaches and players to provide community rugby programs to disadvantaged youth and teen groups throughout Allegheny County, with the goal of instilling the values that team athletics can provide, including self-confidence, leadership, and integrity.
Initial funding was provided by generous donations from the R. K. Mellon, Grable, and McCune Foundations. The Association is in it’s 17th year of program success. The mentoring programs are staffed entirely by volunteers from the Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby club including active and retired players. Each of four program sites strive to maintain a 1:7 ratio of mentors to children and average approximately 25-30 participants per year.
Coach-Mentors receive training from the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania; and safety, CPR and first aid training from staff at Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh. Volunteers are expected to contribute a minimum of 50 hours per year, though many/most far exceed that number.
Formal programs runs for 10 weeks in March, April, May. Program preparation and mentor training continues 12 months a year.