Who We Are

Our Story

The Grassroot Project was originally founded in 2009 by Tyler Spencer and 39 other Georgetown University student-athletes. After learning that 1 in 20 DC residents was living with HIV—a statistic that rivaled some Sub-Saharan African countries—the founding athletes of The Grassroot Project wouldn’t be caught witnessing the epidemic from the sidelines…they wanted to fight back. Tyler had three years of experience working on HIV prevention with soccer players in South Africa. He knew that sports could be used as an effective tool to break the ice around HIV prevention, and he also believed that student athletes were a tremendous untapped resource for addressing DC’s public health crisis.

The Grassroot Project started small-with 40 athletes volunteering to run 8-week HIV prevention programs in four schools. Since 2009, however, our work has grown tremendously…we’ve now worked in more than 50 schools and community centers across DC, involved more than 900 student-athletes from four DC universities, and reached 5,000 DC teens with our programs. As we have grown, the rates of HIV have consistently declined, year after year. Unfortunately, DC teens still live in a city with an HIV prevalence of nearly 3%–we still have a lot of work to do.

Over the next few years, we are committed to continuing our HIV work, but we are also doing the research and raising the funds to launch additional health education curricula, particularly in physical health and mental health. To make this happen, we already have some great partners in the DC Public Schools, the Office of the State Superintendent, and a handful of other public and private partners.

Through the Years

September – December 2008

Tyler works with a team of high school students and local health educators to adapt the South African soccer-based HIV prevention curriculum for use in DC.

December 2008

The first 40 Grassroot Coaches are recruited. They represent 9 sports teams at Georgetown University

January 2009 – May 2009

The first group of Grassroot Coaches are trained, and TGP programs start at four local schools.

June 2009

MTV gives TGP the “Staying Alive Award” and $50,000 to support our growth. Months later, the DC Department of Health begins a 4-year grant partnership with TGP.

2009 – 2010

Athletes from George Washington University and Howard University join the TGP family.


TGP receives a four-year grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to launch programs in 24 public and charter school classrooms.


Bill Clinton interviews in an ABC News Exclusive, saying that TGP’s approach to HIV is “a great idea…better than anything I’ve come up with.”


TGP adds athletes from the University of Maryland and begins new programs in Prince George’s County, Maryland

TGP meets Barbara Bush at the Clinton Global Initiative and joins forces with Bush’s nonprofit (Global Health Corps) to bring on our first full-time staff members


TGP expands its footprint to more than 50 DC middle schools and begins launching community health fairs in partnership with the DC Department of Health and the DC Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development


TGP completes the first randomized controlled trial evaluation of a US-based sport-for-sexual health curriculum. The results show that our programs significantly improve students’ sexual health literacy.


TGP begins working directly with the DC Public Schools and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to improve the overall adolescent health landscape for DC students – including HIV but also addressing other health disparities facing DC teens.


Founder and Executive Director
Director of Programs
Program Manager, Athletes
Program Manager, Schools
Operations Intern
Finance Intern
Research and Evaluation Intern
Programs Intern
Community Programs Intern
Community Programs Intern

Athlete Leaders

Howard, Track
Georgetown, Rowing
Howard, Tennis
GWU, Water Polo
Howard, Bowling
Georgetown, Rowing
American, Track


We would not be where we are today without our partners. If you are interested in joining us or learning more about our partnership opportunities please CLICK Here.


Founder and Executive Director
Policy Analyst for DC Chief Financial Officer
Vice President at Athletes for Hope
Senior Manager, External Affairs North America, ViiV Healthcare
Public Health Analyst, Patient Advocate
Associate at Black Bear Energy
Film Campaign Manager at The Malala Fund
Public Servant in the DC Mayor's Office

Annual Reports

2016 Annual Report


2015 Annual Report


2014 Annual Report


2013 Annual Report