Sports-Based Youth Development Organizations In Southern California Awarded $1.3+ Million In Grants As The LA84 Foundation Supports Planning For Future Soccer Complex in Whittier
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 13, 2023) – The LA84 Foundation has awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to advance foundation priorities including increasing access to sports, play and movement across Southern California to support childhood well-being and lifelong success.
These grants increase access to sports and movement programming in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura Counties and continue to nurture girls’ participation in sports.
The LA84 Foundation Board of Directors met in October and approved 17 grants that are expected to impact over 30,000 children in the region. In an investment that continues to fulfill the foundation’s vision to serve youth today as well as future generations, the LA84 Foundation also awarded a $300,000 grant to the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (LACDPR) for the development of the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area soccer complex for the future.
“We are committed to removing barriers for kids to have access to the benefits of sport and play, and by advancing play equity giving kids a pathway to success and well-being,” said Renata Simril, President & CEO of the LA84 Foundation. “These grants shine a light on a wide range of communities as well as our support of soccer, and we also work with after-school and girls’ programs that enrich educational experiences of students through sport.”
Although there are 22 sports and activities supported in this round of grants, the LA84 Foundation continues to invest in the future of soccer in the region with the participation rates of the sport ranking among the most popular activities according to the results in the 2022 Los Angeles County Play Equity Youth Sports Survey. Despite this popularity, soccer programs and infrastructure do not meet the rising demand. Learn more about some of these recent grants and our partners’ work below.
A pair of grants align with the LA84 Foundation priority to increase the participation of girls and young women in sports. A grant to Southern California Golf Association Foundation will support the Girls Golf chapters in southwest LA, the San Fernando Valley, and communities in Orange and Riverside Counties. Another grant will support Peace Players Los Angeles Girls Leadership Development Program in South Los Angeles, which includes basketball training and support for girls to help build their self-confidence and leadership skills.
Three grants were awarded to Boys and Girls Clubs in the region, including in the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley, Santa Paula – which serves children and youth residing in rural Ventura County – the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley and Eastside, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles, which serves Bell Gardens, Venice, Watts/Willowbrook and South Los Angeles.
The Whittier Narrows Recreation Area is in the West San Gabriel Valley, where the population is 900,000, approximately 160,000 of which are children between ages 5-19. LACDPR will use the LA84 Foundation grant for an initial feasibility analysis, an environmental impact analysis, as well as jurisdictional analysis which will include consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers. Analysis of parking, traffic, security and accessibility also must be completed. After these steps, the project will move into the creation of conceptual designs, graphics and a cost estimate.
“The LA84 Foundation is excited that this grant to the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation will begin the planning for the Whittier Narrows Recreation soccer complex. Soccer has been the fastest-growing sport among youth in LA County for several years, yet we lack facilities where kids can play,” said Simril. “This complex will help improve the health and wellness of young people, enhance the quality of life in San Gabriel Valley, and create connections in the community for generations. The LA84 Foundation has a legacy of developing recreational infrastructure that increases access, and this project illustrates philanthropy working with government for the benefit of all.”
There are four soccer fields per 1,000 residents in Los Angeles, as compared to an average of 16.7 fields per 1,000 residents in other major metropolitan cities. Within a five-mile radius of Whittier Narrows there are nearly 85,000 students enrolled in schools. LACDPR has a long-term lease from the Army Corps of Engineers and operates and maintains the property.
Additional funding was also awarded to the California Science Center for its “Science of Sport” exhibit. It is part of a special exhibit that will use sports to teach STEM education.
ABOUT THE LA84 FOUNDATION The LA84 Foundation is a national leader in the role of sports in positive youth development. As a legacy of the 1984 Summer Olympics, the LA84 Foundation has supported thousands of organizations in Southern California through grant making, funding facilities and fields of play, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and as a national thought leader on issues ensuring childhood success and community health. The LA84 Foundation levels the playing field for play equity to ensure all youth have access and opportunity, regardless of income, gender or ability, while elevating sport and play as an integral pathway to lifelong well-being.