SportsUnited: USA Group

SportsUnited: USA Group



BASKETBALL AMBASSADORS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW is a SportsUnited initiative, administered by the Russian American Foundation, in collaboration with School 2.0, – a unique social, sports and education project established under the patronage of the best known Russian basketball player of our age – Andrei Kirilenko, and with the support of Russia’s national Student Basketball Association.

As part of this bilateral exchange, in April 2016 RAF will send on full scholarship, funded by the SportsUnited Division of ECA, a group of American non-elite high-school basketball players (male and female) and high-school basketball coaches (male and female) for a 10 day trip to Russia. Additionally, in March 2016 RAF will bring a group of Russian non-elite high-school and college level  basketball coaches to the US (male and female), also on full scholarships funded by SportsUnited. U.S. participants will be selected from the New York State area*, while Russian participants will be selected nationally.

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Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko: “By exploring the world, we learn many things. Experiencing new countries and cultures enriches our mindsets and broadens our horizons. 

People with common passions and interests, regardless from which country or culture they come from, can always find common ground and ways to understand each other.  But perhaps most importantly, these commonalities help us to realize that we are not as different from one another as it may appear.

Basketball is a perfect example of how a game can bring people, who speak completely different languages, closer together through a common passion. Basketball has no limits: it unites, inspires, and is loved by millions of people from all corners of the globe. “
Andrei Kirilenko is a Russian-American former professional basketball player and President of Russia’s Basketball Federation. Among numerous achievements, Andrei Kirilenko became the first Russian player selected in the first round of a draft, was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and the 2004 NBA All-Star Game, played 10 seasons for NBA Utah Jazz, and in 2012 led CSKA Moscow to the Euroleague Final, being named the MVP and Euroleague Defensive Player of the Year. Since the 2000 Summer Olympics, Kirilenko has been a regular member of the Russian basketball national team.

Jon Robert “J.R.” Holden

J. R. Holden: “Learning about another culture is so important to your growth as a person. You realize that people all over the world have a lot more similarities than we think. Learning something as small as the food that another culture enjoys is a step in the right direction.  We all want a certain level of respect and there is no better way to show that respect and gain the respect of another person than by learning a little more about another’s culture. 

Basketball is such a unique and special game. It is a game that has given me friends from the richest and poorest neighborhoods in America all the way to the richest and poorest neighborhoods in Russia. It’s a game that gives people from all cultures, nationalities etc. a passion and bond that can tie them together for a lifetime.” 

J.R. Holden is a retired American Russian professional basketball player, currently – an NBA scout for the Detroit Pistons. As a member of CSKA Moscow, Holden won two Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008, reached eight consecutive Euroleague Final Four tournaments and was selected to the Euroleague 2001-2010 All-Decade Team. In 2007 he won the FIBA EuroBasket title with Russian national basketball team.

 * If a candidate from the Tri-state area is able to provide an official letter of support from his/her academic school allowing for absence during the Program period and is able to commit to attending all pre-departure events in NYC, s/he may be considered for the Program.

For questions regarding the Program please contact:
Victoria Gumennaya – Program Coordinator
Phone: +1-212-687-6118 ext. 203


DATES OF TRIPCassidy and Jenny - Red Square TO RUSSIA:  APRIL 22 – MAY 1, 2016

Through the sponsorship of SportsUnited, full scholarships will be provided for a group of American high-school students (male and female) and American high-school coaches (male and female).

The Program encompasses pre-departure activities and an overseas trip to Russia.  The pre-departure activities will be comprised of 3 one-day weekend events organized at New York City/Long Island locations and will be supplemented by virtual components.  The goal of the pre-departure activities will be to familiarize the participants with each other, as well as to introduce them to Program’s expectations and assist in preparation for travel to Russia.

In Russia, the 10 days/10 nights of the Program (which will take place during NYS’ April public school break) will incorporate numerous basketball, cultural, and peer-to-peer experiences (sightseeing, friendly basketball scrimmages and practices, interactive workshops, attendance of sporting events, outings to local restaurants), which will use the common bond of basketball to expand participants’ understanding of Russia and its people. An additional focus will be made on professional activities (visits to companies and organizations, meetings with local leaders, etc.), which will introduce participants to diverse career and educational options available beyond this Program.  A very unique opportunity of a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and meeting with various representatives is planned.


  • Pre-departure, arrival, and re-entry orientations in NYC
  • Basketball activities and cultural programming during the US based orientations and the overseas component in Russia
  • Economy air ticket NYC-Moscow-NYC and baggage fee for one piece of luggage (if not included in ticket fee)
  • Local travel arrangements in Russia for all group Program activitiesThe US Embassy
  • Dorm/moderate hotel type housing and Host family accommodations in Russia
  • Three meals each day
  • Russian Visa processing
  • Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefits as described at
  • Local emergency cell phone in Russia
  • Program basketball uniform
  • Official Scholarship Award Certificate upon successful completion.


  • Costs associated with obtaining a valid U.S. passport and photos for the visa
  • Required medical examinations and immunizations
  • Spending money for personal expenses
  • Excess baggage fees
  • All other expenses not listed in section “SportsUnited Scholarship includes.”


For the overseCassidy - Izmailovoas component, participants will travel to Russia for 10 days/10 nights.  While most of the trip is planned to take place in Moscow, a one-two day train trip to a nearby Suzdal and Vladimir Cities will be incorporated.  Participants will reside as a group in a dorm/moderate hotel accommodations (youth participants 2-4 to a room/coaches and staff 1-2 to a room).   The students will also spend a weekend living with a local Russian host family.  Coaches will not have a host family component.

While the Program incorporates numerous organized activities which take place in the metropolises, participants may be exposed to rural areas.  No travel beyond the Program’s official locations will be allowed.


Moscow is one of the most dynamic and fascinating cities in the world.  Similar to New York, regular awareness, common sense, and caution are expected from all participants at all times.

While RAF takes great care to ensure the safety and well-being of participants during the Program, our ability to do so depends, in part, on serious preparation of participants and their families for the experience. All participants in the Program are expected to be mature and responsible in their decision making process, to be able to function independently, to understand the inherent risks involved in overseas travel, and to comply with all rules, laws, and regulations of the Program and the overseas host country and hosts. The Program is structured so that, in addition to organized and chaperoned activities, participants are offered limited opportunities to explore the cities of Moscow and Suzdal /Vladimir on their own. Attendance at all Program activities and curfew is mandatory.

An American bilingual group leader will accompany the group on the overseas trip, will reside with thThe Moscow-City business center, home to the tallest building in Europee group in the dormitory/hotel accommodations, and will be available to participants 24/7 for overall guidance and assistance. American coaches will be with the group also, other than during host family stays and some youth specific events.  Group leader/coaches will not be required to accompany participants during their free time and/or during their stays at host families.

While in many respects Moscow, Suzdal/Vladimir are similar to the big and small cities in the US and share a similar level of risks, there are some country specific ones. Below are important links that will assist candidates and their families to understand some of the Russia specific risks, advisories, and recommendations which are relevant to travel to Russia:

US Department of State – Russia
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Russia
Smart Travel Enrollment Program
US Embassy in Moscow Messages & Travel Alerts

For questions regarding the Program please contact:
Victoria Gumennaya – Program Coordinator
Phone: +1-212-687-6118 ext. 203


This Program is a full scholarship opportunity, funded by the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 
No knowledge of Russian is required.
An applicant MUST meet the following general requirements to be considered for the Program:
    • Be a resident of New York State.*
    • Have a demonstrated record of:
      • Academic excellence and achievement.
      • Minimum of 3 years basketball team playing experience (non-elite level).
      • Be 15-17 years of age at the start of the Program on April 22nd, 2016 and enrolled, in good standing, in a recognized High School (9th-11th grade levels).  unnamed (1)
    • Have a demonstrated record of:
      • Professional excellence and achievement.
      • Presently employed in a coaching capacity at a non-elite level.
    • Be a U.S. Citizen and have a valid US passport at the start of the Program**. Participants cannot have dual U.S. – Russian citizenship. If born in Russia, applicant must have the official proof that s/he is no longer considered a citizen of Russia by the Russian government.
    • Applicant must be mature, focused and able to behave responsibly at all times.
    • Applicant must NOT BE an immediate family member of an employee of the U.S. Department of State who works in the SportsUnited Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or an employee at SportsUnited administering organization whose duties involve this Program.
    • Any applicant who is being considered as a finalist will be required to complete additional documentation including, but not limited to: Participant Terms & Conditions Agreement, Physician’s Report and Medical Review, and others as required.
    • By applying to the Program, the applicant and his/her guardian(s) understand that they will be expected to abide by the relevant laws, rules, and regulations of the Program, the United States, Russian Federation and host country institutions.
    • No knowledge of Russian is required. Professional interpreter will accompany the group for all Program-related activities.

* If a candidate from the Tri-state area is able to provide an official letter of support from his/her academic school allowing for absence during the Program period and is able to commit to attending all pre-departure events in NYC, s/he may be considered for the Program.

** Official visa guidelines to Russia require that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated return to the U.S (i.e. until at least November 1st, 2017).  Note that passport processing time may be lengthy. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for passports early if they do not have one that meets validity requirements. Please keep in mind that passport related costs are not included in the scholarship.



  • PRE-DEPARTURE:        unnamed
    • Virtual interactive assignments introducing Participants to Russian culture and language (estimated time 10 hrs over 3 months).
    • In-person full day team-building, familiarization and trip preparation activities(3 full days, scheduled on weekends in a NYC / Long Island venue).
    • Welcome Orientation for participants and families (scheduled on a weekend in a NYC / Long Island venue).
    • Completion of necessary Program forms by stated deadlines.
  • OVERSEAS PROGRAM:                                
    • April 22 (afternoon/evening) – May 1, 2016 (afternoon/evening).
    • Completion of evaluation and program surveys.
    • Enrollment in the ECA on-line alumni community.

For questions regarding the Program please contact:
Victoria Gumennaya – Program Coordinator
Phone at +1-212-687-6118 ext. 203


1) Fill out a short-online Form of Interest by clicking here as soon as you become interested in the Program.
2) To complete the actual Program application:
3) Send fully completed application by December 14, 2015 (Monday) – 5PM as follows:
  • Online application ONLY to:
  • The original completed and signed application and all the required documents should be submitted in one package to the following address:

Russian American Foundation, Inc.
Attn: Victoria Gumennaya – Program Coordinator
70 West 36 Street, Suite 701
New York, NY 10018

5) A Selection Committee will review all complete and timely submissions, and will conduct phone or in-person interviews with semifinalists. Finalists will be announced in January 2016. Some of the criteria elements which will be considered are: a) participant’s desire to embrace leadership roles in their local and global communities; b) academic and “off the court” achievements;  c) demonstrated maturity and responsibility in the applicant’s decision making process, ability to function independently, and understanding of  the responsibilities and inherent risks involved in overseas travel.

  • Any semifinalist, who is being considered as finalists will be required to provide and complete additional documentation including, but not limited to: Participant Terms and Conditions Agreement, Physician’s Report and Medical Review, and others as required.

Click HERE to find answers to some Frequently Asked Questions

For questions regarding the Program please contact:
Victoria Gumennaya – Program Coordinator
Phone: +1-212-687-6118 ext. 203


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    Kyle Hines

    “Learning about other countries and cultures is very important. The biggest experience for me as a person has been the opportunity to play overseas, in Russia and other countries, and to learn about local culture, meet new people, and get so many new experience and new memories. I think that will help me become a well-rounded person and more mature as an individual. When I will return home, I will share all my memories and what I have learned here with all my friends and family back home.

    Sports is a common language for all people in all countries. Basketball has became such a global sport, you can come to any corner of the world and find people who understand the game and are its fans. Basketball is definitely a vehicle for people of different counties and cultures to learn and understand each other better” — Kyle Hines.

    Kyle Hines is an American professional player with CSKA Moscow and 2-time Euroleague Champion. Before Russia he played professional basketball in Germany, Italy, Greece and college basketball for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

  • “The experience was life changing for our daughter. She has a more focused attitude towards her college search and a stronger comfort level as to what direction she would like to move towards career wise … She has developed a real awareness and love for Russia!” — PA.
  • “The program enriched and effected my daughter skills above the expectation. the team work, confidence, leadership, global awareness- all these values are priceless and will have a huge influence on her future life.” — CT.
  • “What an amazing life changing opportunity for my son. It has exploded his world view and increased his curiosity about other cultures … he is well suited and prepared to go in any direction he chooses. Moscow is now at the forefront his daily thoughts, both culturally and politically.” — CA.


  • “My NSLI-Y stay in Moscow this summer was a unique experience that will impact the rest of my life — because of this program, I am planning on studying Russian in college. I would like to eventually work in a field where I can use it.” — CA, 17.
  • “My eyes have been open to a world completely different from my own. I now have profound respect for not just Russian culture but other cultures as well. Getting a first hand look at Russian culture has transformed my own culture. I now incorporate many Russian elements into my life such as eating Kasha, drinking tea, and listening to Russian pop music.” — FL, 17.
  • “This [NSLI-Y] program has really opened my eyes to a wider world and has made me excited to travel even more after it finishes. I feel I can take on the world and overcome many more obstacles now.” — OH, 15.
  • “Amazingly, I have formed connections with people on the other side of the world, learning their way of life and showing them my own.” — CT, 17.






  • Altamirano, Matthew (Rego Park, NY) – Francis Preparatory School / ProHoops , Drill & Play
  • Benbow, Isiah (New York, NY ) – All Hallows High School/ ProHoops , Drill & Play
  • Brantley, Kylah (Mount Vernon, NY) – Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics / ProHoops,  Drill & Play
  • Dolloway, Courtney (Brooklyn, NY) – Bedford Academy High School
  • Edmond, Petiri (Far Rockaway, NY) – Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School / New Heights
  • Haines, Jarett (New Rochelle, NY) – New Rochelle High School / New Heights
  • Kotei, Charlene (Brooklyn, New York) – Bedford Academy High School
  • Martinez, Angel (New City, NY) – Clarkstown High School South / New Heights
  • Oppong, Richard (New York, NY) – Health, Education, and Research Occupations High School / ProHoops, Drill & Play
  • Riddick, Shakina (New York, NY) – High School for Dual Language & Asian Studies / ProHoops, Drill & Play
  • Rodriguez, David (New York, NY) – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
  • Scherer, Sophie (New York, NY) – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
  • Woods, GraceAnne (Glen Cove, NY) – Glen Cove High School / Game 7
  • Wynn, Briana (New York, NY) – Promise Academy II, Charter High School / New Heights


  • Crosby, China (Bronx, NY) – Sports Arts School Foundation (SASF) / ProHoops
  • Nute, Dominique (Yonkers, NY) – One World Middle School / New Heights
  • Strasser, Mark (River Edge, NJ) – Eleanor Roosevelt High School



This is a Program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by the Russian American Foundation.
Program implementation subject to available funding of the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961.

Program details are subject to change.