how we started

After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in the spring of 2014, Jason Steinberg moved to the tiny island of Pohnpei, Micronesia to teach high school English. While teaching at Madolenihmw High School, the students showed a deep desire to start a basketball team. Having coached basketball for three years, Jason jumped at the opportunity to coach the boys and girls of MHS.

The problem was that the students didn’t have sneakers or jerseys. For weeks, students would show up every day after school and practice barefoot or in flip flops. Students would pass up their bus ride home from school in order to play two hours of basketball in their bare feet. Without sneakers, they would often finish practice with cuts and injuries and then have to walk home to their village, which for some of them was up to 10 miles away. Jason recognized the students’ passion and decided to start fundraising in order to purchase sneakers and jerseys for the team. Together, Jason and the students of MHS raised enough funds to provide sneakers and jerseys for every student who wanted to play.

The students on the team didn’t just show improvements in their basketball skills, but also became more attentive in school and felt happier on a day-to-day basis. Jason saw similar changes in the students participating in the music club at school – students who would regularly attend the music club showed improvements in schoolwork and heightened confidence. Jason left the island feeling more confident than ever that expressive outlets such as sports and music can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. He also knew that there must be other kids around the world whose lives could be improved through sports and music, but who wouldn’t be able to afford the proper equipment.

When Jason returned to the States after the school year, he created the International Sports and Music Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools and shelters around the world plan and fund sports and music initiatives in their communities. Soon ISMP grew into an international family of people who passionately believe that sports and music can make the world a better place.