Founded in 2018 by Adam Shibley, TUFF (an acronym for The Uniform Funding Foundation) helps disadvantaged and underserved youth sports teams by donating uniforms and other equipment.
“During my sophomore year at Michigan, I decided I wanted to make a bigger difference in the community using the platform I had as a Division I college football player,” says Shibley, who played linebacker for the maize and blue, as well as Notre Dame. “It sparked an idea that I had while playing for St. Ignatius. I would be driving back home from school, or I would be heading in for an early morning workout, and there would be these kids on the street trying to raise money for uniforms and equipment for their upcoming youth sports seasons. I was a kid from the suburbs who never had to worry about the money that was funding my sports program or the uniforms that were bought every year.”
Shibley also came to the realization that uniforms held an innate power to truly strengthen a team’s unity, confidence and identity. So, he founded TUFF, a foundation with an executive team comprised of mostly student athletes who provide uniforms, equipment and mentorship to underserved youth athletes playing football, as well as boys and girls basketball.
The donations have a positive impact on the morale of youth sports teams, as well as the communities in which they are located.
“We put on these events as enterprise donations for these teams,” Shibley says. “The kids have no idea it’s coming, but their family members come out and their head coaches help bring it all together,” he says.
This past summer, TUFF helped the Slavic Village Bears and the Pal 6 Red Dogs that play in the Cleveland Muny Youth Football League, as well as other youth and high school sports teams in the area.
The efforts of TUFF have not gone unnoticed. NFL players are reaching out with offers of donations, funds and partnerships. Major sports announcers and personalities such as Adam Schefter and Gus Johnson are also getting involved.
“Gus Johnson of Fox Sports helped fund his youth program in Detroit,” Shibley says. “He helped us raise and donate over $75,000 in equipment, new uniforms and a new scoreboard.”
Shibley is starting to gain recognition for his efforts. Kevin Warren, commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, saw what TUFF was doing last summer. With the inception of the Big Ten Foundation earlier this summer, Shibley joined the organization as a George and Viola Taliaferro fellow. He will meet with Warren on a regular basis to help build the Big Ten Foundation, which will also be working with underserved communities.
Shibley will serve as a project manager to research how the foundation should move forward. But he also says he will continue his work with TUFF.
“It’s really crazy how much success we have had in such a short amount of time,” he says. “Even though I am full time with the Big Ten, I also have plans to expand TUFF into other communities like Atlanta, Boston and Charlotte next year.”
If you would like to donate, go to gettuff.org.