Danbury Grassroots Academy

DGA is a free, year round program serving 50 select students, ages 8-18, since 2006. Our mission is to improve the lives of promising, selected students in Danbury emphasizing education, character, tennis, and health. We provide our students with a disciplined and nurturing environment for mentoring, promoting healthy lifestyles, and building self-esteem.  The program operates at our 2,500 square foot Main Street center and on Danbury’s public tennis courts at Rogers Park. During the winter our highest achieving participants also qualify to play indoor tennis two to three days a week. We have two full time employees, Lauren Dalton (Executive Director) and Lynn Radford (Academic Director), and one part time summer tennis professional. In addition, we have the support of over 40 active, year-round volunteer tutors and tennis pros comprised of National Honor Society students from local high schools, former teachers, WCSU students, and local residents.

We have four primary goals: To stress the critical importance of education; provide the tools necessary to develop character; teach the basics of tennis; and emphasize the value of nutrition and exercise. Specific and long term objectives are to improve report card grades, DRA reading levels, high school graduation rates and establish career paths or college education.

A successful DGA participant will evolve over time to develop skills that demonstrate a strong work ethic. Students will learn to become personally responsible in all areas of their lives, but with a strong focus on their academics. Students will learn to value education, take pride in their academic work and demonstrate a persistence to achieve excellence.  In addition, students will develop healthy interpersonal relationships that demonstrate good character traits such as integrity, respect, citizenship and caring for others. A DGA participant will embed wellness into their lives and recognize that good nutrition, exercise and fitness will help to make them happy and healthy.


  • The Class of 2016 have begun classes at Boston College, Fairfield University, Earlham College,

WCSU, and NVCC this fall

  • To date, all of our students have achieved a 100% high school graduation rate and have gone on to attend college or begin a career
  • Over 15 students have made the Honor Roll
  • 3 DGA students have been inducted into the National Honor Society
  • Since 2006, over 28 participants have played Varsity High School tennis at Danbury High School, Abbott Tech, Immaculate High School, and Wooster School
  • 6 participants have competed in the State Open Tournament in singles and doubles tournament
  • Through the DGA, six participants have received scholarships to attend Immaculate High
  • Homework completion level and study habits drastically improve during a student’s first semester in the program
  • All of our students show significant improvement with work habits, social skills, self-esteem, leadership skills, academic performance, and school attendance after one year in the program
  • The majority of our students boost reading levels by one level over the summer & by one or more levels during school year
  • Our students realize significant advances in math performance and an overall increase in standardized math test scores
  • DGA promotes general health, fitness, and wellness by keeping of student’s active, fostering the importance of healthy behaviors, and providing healthy snacks.


  • Recognized as top 3 finalist for USTA National Program of the Year in 2014
  • Awarded Program of the Year for USTA New England 2012
  • In 2014, Director, Lauren Dalton, was awarded the Danbury Area Mentor of the Year Award from   W.C.S.U. for her outstanding work in mentoring area youth through tennis and tutoring
  • The 2011 Linda Newby Professional Service Award for contribution and commitment to the children and families of the Danbury community
  • In 2007, Carl Bailey, Founder and President, received the USTA Connecticut Program of the Year Award

College Acceptance List

Boston college

University of Pittsburgh

University of Vermont

Syracuse University

Vassar College

Marist College

Colby College

University of Maine

New England College

Fairfield University

University of Connecticut

The College of New Jersey

Quinnipiac College

University of Massachusetts at Lowell

Earlham College

Washington & Jefferson College

University of Hartford


Simmons College

Champlain College


Danbury Grassroots Academy is a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity

I love this program because they help us in many ways and they teach us tennis too! They teach us nutrition and tell us how much sleep we need, and they help us with homework too.

Program Participant

The benefit of this program is that we take kids that might not be ordinarily exposed to tennis and we put them out on a tennis court, and they are not only learning about tennis, they're learning life lessons. They're learning how to play by the rules, how to treat each other with dignity and respect, how to be part of a larger team and a larger organization.

City of Danbury

I love everything about this program. This program is amazing. The kids that we have, the services that we offer them, the way that they respond to the services, the way that they respond to our volunteers, and the way they respond to each other is just amazing.

Director of Education - DGA