LOS ANGELES (January 22, 2014) – As the world’s focus turns to the Olympic Games in Sochi, the LA84 Foundation is keeping the Olympic spirit alive among young athletes in Los Angeles. Twenty-six local youth sports organizations received $1.7 million in grants today from LA84, the leading funder for youth athletics in Southern California.
Since the LA84 Foundation was endowed in 1985 with the surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, the organization has invested more than $220 million back into the communities that hosted the Games. Some participants in LA84-funded programs have gone on to become Olympians themselves. In fact, three athletes who trained with the Southern California Speed Skating Association, a longtime LA84 grant recipient, will be part of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating team: J.R. Celski, Eduardo “Eddy” Alvarez and Jordan Malone.
LA84 Foundation President Anita L. DeFrantz, who is preparing to leave for the upcoming Sochi Olympic Winter Games as part of her duties as an Executive Member of the International Olympic Committee, believes that this latest round of grants is another testament to the power of the Games to transform communities. “As we look forward to celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles this summer, we’re proud that its legacy continues to support the next generation of young athletes,” she said. “These programs are going the extra mile to support students and entire communities throughout Southern California, and we are confident that these grants will positively affect many young lives.”
The top grant of $450,000 was awarded to Kids in Sports, a Los Angeles-based organization that provides high quality and affordable sports opportunities for underserved youth while encouraging the growth of healthy families and communities with neighborhood sports clubs. The grant is expected to serve nearly 5,900 children in basketball, baseball/softball, volleyball and soccer leagues organized by Kids in Sports throughout Los Angeles County.
Another significant grant went to LA’s BEST, which provides a safe and supervised after school environment for children in 182 elementary schools in the LA Unified School District. Specifically, LA84 funds a sports program that provides approximately 12,500 students with opportunities to develop their physical and social skills through flag football, basketball, softball and soccer. In addition, the program supports coaches for more than 240 teams districtwide, who train students in each sport for five weeks in preparation for final tournament competitions.
The Southern California Tennis Association— the league through which the Williams sisters jumpstarted their careers— received $150,000 towards funding for personnel, athlete expenses and equipment at 100 sites region wide. Play Rugby was awarded $75,000 to continue growing the sport of flag rugby, a “touch” form of the sport that minimizes the risk of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Another notable grant recipient is Inter Tribal Sports, an organization that provides year-round sports programming for youth living on or near Indian reservations in Southern California, offering basketball, softball, flag football and soccer. The $60,000 grant will be used for personnel, officials, uniforms and other equipment.
Five of the awards in this round of grants are specifically geared towards facility improvements: the Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club received $65,000 for a new gym floor, the Koreatown YMCA of Metropolitan LA received $50,000 for a pool and Caritas Corporation received $20,000 for a soccer field located in a low-income mobile home park in Palmdale. In addition, Growth Opportunities Through Athletics Learning and Service (GOALS) was given $50,000 for a new multi-sports facility for a variety of team sports, including roller hockey and futsal, while the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation of LA County received $126,800 towards the construction of several play spaces at the Century Youth Activities League Center in South Los Angeles.