Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) was born out of its sister organization, the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL), which was founded in 1970 by Arthur Ashe with the mission of developing character and promoting physical fitness in urban youth through tennis. NYJTL began with summer youth tennis programs in New York City parks, and in 1983 established tennis programs in 400 public schools. The organization delivered clinics and competition during the school day, after school, on weekends and over the summer.
By 1990, school and community leaders were looking for more than tennis. With this in mind, in 1992 the management of NYJTL formed the Sports in Schools Foundation (SSF), which brought a variety of after-school sports and athletic activities to New York City public schools. A study by the Metis Association showed that SSF programming measurably improve student attendance, student self esteem, school pride and community perception of the host schools. In 1995 SSF added arts curriculum to its programming and formally changed its name to SASF.
Over subsequent years, with funding and support from organizations such as the United Way and The After School Corporation, by 2001 SASF grew to become the leading provider of comprehensive school-based sports and arts after-school programming in New York City. More recently, SASF has branched out to academic assistance, guidance counseling and character development programming with a focus on helping in-need students progress through the public school system and go on to success in college.