2020 In Review: A Year We Will Never Forget

by Tessa Koga

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 5, 2021) – As we look back on 2020, it has been a year of challenges and reflection. The year kicked off with such optimism as we ushered in a new decade. Over the 12 months of 2020, all of our lives were overturned by a global pandemic, and while we have lost family, friends and colleagues, we have also learned and emerged stronger than we were previously.

In 2020, at the LA84 Foundation we worked to adapt and support and our partners in new ways. We also found new partners and allies to respond to the pandemic, to join the Play Equity Movement and work toward racial justice. We have learned that while we may not know what is coming, there is strength in working collectively and we can always overcome challenges when we partner together.

As we look ahead, the Play Equity Movement – including the Play Equity Fund, the LA84 Foundation, the 11 professional teams that united to form The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles, our friends, grantees and partners – are incredibly optimistic and look forward to 2021, and new year full of possibilities.

Play Equity Movement – Year in Review

Following the Safer at Home orders directed by California public health officials in late March, The Play Equity Fund and LA84 Foundation pivoted from the traditional work of funding grantees, training coaches, and supporting youth sports to taking direct action to support Play at Home activities with the #StayActiveStayStrong program. The goal was to reach communities who lacked access to Play at Home equipment and to transform backyards and living rooms into playgrounds, fields, and courts with play products.

  • The Play Equity Fund and LA84 Foundation gave away 120,000 play equipment products at 60 sites including balls, racquet sets, jump ropes, other gear, and printed cards with Play at Home resources.

  • The play equipment was purchased or donated through partnerships the Play Equity Fund and LA84 Foundation developed, including with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Jack Nadel International, Kole Imports, Nike, Score Sports and WSS.

  • To distribute the equipment, the Play Equity Fund and LA84 Foundation forged partnerships with school districts feeding thousands of families in this time of need –including LAUSD, Compton, Pasadena, and the schools of the L.A. Archdiocese –as well as community centers, family centers and recreation centers.

  • The Play Equity Fund produced a series of instructional workout videos by Olympians, professional athletes, and coaches from the Chargers, Dodgers, Lakers and Rams. Children posted exercise videos responding to the athletes and were awarded prizes as the #PlayEquityMVP. The Play Equity Fund Instagram audience grew from launch to 4,000+.

  • The #StayActiveStayStrong program was featured in the Los Angeles Times, on MSN.com, KABC, KCAL, KCBS, KTLA, KTTV, Telemundo, in the Los Angeles Daily News, and several other media outlets.

In July, The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles, a partnership between all 11 Los Angeles professional sports teams was launched as a sports and social justice initiative. The 11 teams include the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Chargers, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Football Club, LA Galaxy, LA Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, and Los Angeles Sparks.

Over the summer The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles and Play Equity collaborated to host a virtual Sport for Social Justice Symposium to discuss access in youth sports.

The 9th annual LA84 Foundation 2020 Youth Sports Summit was held virtually over five weeks in September in collaboration with Play Equity. Under the theme “The People Power Our Movement,” panelists including sports leaders, coaches, and athletes discussed driving positive social change through sport.

Among many others, we were grateful to be joined by Olympian Gwen Berry, softball legend and UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez, U.S. Women’s Senior National Water Polo Head Coach Adam Krikorian, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson, CBS Sports Analyst, author and women’s groundbreaker Amy Trask, WNBA All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, and Angel City FC Founder Julie Uhrman. Each of the conversations in their entirety are available here.

This year brought new partnerships for Play Equity and LA84 Foundation. In October, the Play Equity Fund partnered with Angel City FC to distribute soccer equipment to children.

The Play Equity Fund teamed up with Laila Ali – TV host, mother of two, four-time undefeated boxing world champion, and fitness & wellness icon – to advocate for closing the gap that exists in access to youth sports in this video: https://www.youtube.com

The LA84 Foundation released the 2020 Los Angeles County Youth Sports Participation Survey for Play Equity which provides both aggregated and sport-by-sport data about the more than 1.2 million youngsters – ages 6 through 17 – who play sports in LA County.

Natalie Portman of Angel City FC teamed up with Play Equity and LA84 Foundation to support the Play Equity Movement on Giving Tuesday.

The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles formed a partnership with ICEF View Park and LA Promise Charter High Schools. ICEF will include sports-based youth development integrated into the curriculum and LA Promise will use sport as a tool for engagement and positive youth development.

The Alliance Teen Town Hall introduced student athletes to The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles and featured Olympian Gwen Berry and Rams Director of Social Justice & Football Development Johnathan Franklin who use their voice and platforms for change.

In December, the virtual Student Athlete Hangout gave students an opportunity to learn more about the Alliance Student Leadership and Empowerment Program.

The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles prepared to launch the Student Leadership and Empowerment Program for 50 student athletes from these schools which will use sports as an entryway to leadership and advocacy for student athletes. Brotherhood Crusade and Community Coalition co-created a sport-based, advocacy-centered curriculum specifically for this initiative and will co-facilitate the leadership training for year one.

The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles established an online presence on Twitter (@TheAllianceLA) and Instagram (@TheAllianceLA).

The Play Equity Movement – including the Play Equity Fund, the LA84 Foundation, the 11 professional teams that united to form The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles look forward to more initiatives and events to come in 2021. The Play Equity Movement is exited to continue the #StayActiveStayConnected program this year. We look forward to continuing our mission to level the play equity gap with our partners.