Today, the LA84 Foundation takes new steps towards closing the equity gap in youth sports participation with the announcement of over $1.5 million in grants to Southern California school-based and community youth sports organizations. The LA84 Foundation’s goal, play for all, aims to get every child life ready through sports, regardless of socioeconomic status. These grants are part of the Foundation’s Fall grant cycle. In total, so far in 2017, the LA84 Foundation has invested nearly $5 million dollars back into Southern California organizations through grantmaking and programs.
LA84 has been a game-changer in youth sports for over 30 years, investing over $230 million throughout Southern California’s communities. With these grant awards, 59,000 additional young athletes will join the over 3 million youth impacted by LA84’s work and mission. Locally and nationwide, much more work needs to be done, with 3.5 million kids, many of them from lower income communities, anticipated to lose access to school sports during this decade alone.
“Play Equity is a social justice issue,” says Renata Simril, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. “The grantees we are announcing today are key members of a community of change-makers who meet kids where they are and know the role sports participation plays in positive youth development. There’s an old African proverb that says: If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together. As a result, we are running together with these grantees. “
So, how are LA84’s grantees changing lives?
A $50,000 grant will help to fund the South Central Sports League for A Place Called Home. A Place Called Home is an organization that provides children and teens (ages 8-17) that live in South Los Angeles with love, safety, enrichment, training, and opportunities through educational programs, counseling, and mentorship. The South Central Sports league offers year-round seasonal sports programs, including soccer, fall football, basketball and volleyball, free of charge to children and their families. This grant fills critical gap in the community where most youth do not engage in sufficient physical activity, especially organized youth sports. Celeste, a 13-year-old member of A Place Called Home said, “The athletics program has changed my life because it made me realize I would love to be on a team. I want to find a sport where I can relax and feel free.”
For the Youth Policy Institute, a $85,000 grant will help to fund the Promise of Wellness pilot program. The Promise of Wellness program will pilot at nine elementary and middle schools in central Los Angeles, a historically underserved area. The first hour of programming focuses on leadership development, while the second hour focuses on athletic engagement, with youth participating in ultimate frisbee, handball, or a team decathlon. There is no cost to the participants and the program aims to highlight the role sport plays in positive youth development.
The GRYD (Gang Reduction and Youth Development) Foundation are recipients of a $100,000 grant for a multi-sport program that serves youth living in under-resourced communities. Sports include: basketball, boxing, skateboarding, soccer, and softball. GRYD sports intervention programming utilizes sport as part of an overall community engagement plan that is helping youth and families overcome the obstacles that come with living in gang influenced neighborhoods. This programming serves youth and families in South, East, and Central Los Angeles, as well as the Harbor, and the San Fernando Valley.
For the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, a $140,000 grant will help to increase the number of girls participating in Recreation and Parks sports seasons, specifically those girls from underserved neighborhoods. According to LA County Department of Public Health, Key Indicators of Health Report released March 2013, only 24.6% of girls compared to 32.1% of boys meet the recommended amount of aerobic activity. Recreation and Parks plans to recruit and retain a new cohort of 350 – 400 girls, mostly from South LA, East LA, and the Valley. The sport to be focused on, though girls can participate in any sport they choose, is volleyball.
Over at THINK (Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids) Together, a $142,000 grant will help to operate their after-school structured play programs. The programs provide competitive sports after-school to 5,000 middle school students at 45 public schools in communities in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties, where obesity rates surpass the national average. THINK Together fills the youth sports gap by offering programs free of charge on school campuses in areas where districts have cut their middle school sports programs.
Additionally, the following organizations also received grants from the LA84 Foundation:
- Afterschool All-Stars LA
- America Scores LA
- BGC – Central Orange Coast
- Boys and Girls Club of Carson
- Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside
- Boys and Girls Club of The Los Angeles Harbor
- California Youth Soccer Association – South
- Carousel Ranch
- City of Palmdale
- Connie Cycling Foundation
- Friends of Expo
- Hollenbeck PAL
- Hollenbeck Police Business Council
- LA Promise Fund
- McDuffy’s Academy of Academic Excellence
- Newport Aquatic Center
- Ronald McDonald House
- Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club
- The Los Angeles Junior of Chamber of Commerce Charity Foundation
- The Salvation Army
- Tiger Woods Foundation, Inc.
- YMCA – Orange County
- YMCA of Glendale
One player, one coach, one mentor, one partner at a time, the LA84 Foundation is playing forward its thirty plus year legacy. LA84 and its grantees are coming together to support the next generation of Southern California leaders, athletes and Olympians to ensure access to sports isn’t determined by zip code.
About the LA84 Foundation
The LA84 Foundation is a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and public education about the role of sports in positive youth development. The foundation, with 30+ years of on-the-ground experience, has supported thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues. LA84 levels the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, while elevating the field of youth sports as an integral part of American life. To learn more, visit www.la84.org and @LA84Foundation on Twitter and Instagram.