connect / 2014

Dodgeball Community and the Common Good

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Eagle Rock Yacht Club

The Yacht Club will recruit, select and develop 6 leaders to launch community dodgeball leagues in under-resourced neighborhoods across LA.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

The Yacht Club will recruit, select and develop 6 leaders to launch community dodgeball leagues in under-resourced neighborhoods across LA.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • Westside
  • Currently we benefit Venice, North Hollywood, Glassell Park and Highland Park. Our proposal would extend our impact beyond the communities we currently serve.

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The Yacht Club wants to recruit, select and develop six league ambassadors to launch dodgeball leagues in under-resourced neighborhoods across LA. We will provide start-up funds and the development to ensure leagues are sustainable and are actualizing The Yacht Club vision.

During Stage 1 of our project, ambassadors will conduct strategic community outreach and build social trust to understand the current needs of new neighborhoods. As they begin leagues in Stage 2, ambassadors will develop programs and events aligned to current neighborhood need. Ambassadors will invest players to volunteer and lead community development efforts. Our leagues will be known for using dodgeball as a means to connect and pursue the common good.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We will hold a planning meeting in early October to outline the scope of work needed to roll out Stage 1 successfully. Later, in late November, a second planning meeting will be held to ensure we are ready to roll out Stage 2. Our project coordinator, board committee (formed to focus on LA2050 efforts from existing Yacht Club board members) and Yacht Club founders will participate in each planning meeting. Planning meetings will provide the project coordinator with input to build out stage-specific project plans.

The Stage 1 project plan will include targets and milestones to drive our a) recruitment campaign for league ambassadors, and b) the development of resources and support. In addition to participating in monthly oversight meetings with our board committee, our project coordinator will provide weekly status updates to The Yacht Club board chair. The Stage 2 project plan will include targets and milestones to support league ambassadors with their a) community outreach, b) recruitment of players and c) community development efforts.

Monthly progress check-ins will be held between league ambassadors and the project coordinator. League ambassadors will report out on targets, milestones and identify support needed. The project coordinator will share best practices and help match resources to areas of need or support identified by the league ambassador.

Monthly board committee check-ins will be held between the project coordinator and board committee. The project coordinator will report out on project targets, milestones and success measures. For example, at the end of each league during Stage 2, the project coordinator will compile data from player surveys to provide a general review of each league and league ambassador. The board committee will then support the project coordinator to identify ways to maintain and improve a healthy and successful project implementation.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

The Yacht Club believes civic engagement– feelings of responsibility toward the common good– is inherent in all of us. We believe Angelenos will get more involved when they’re provided with opportunities that not only help solve community issues and improve the well-being of neighborhoods, but are also down-right fun.

Everybody wants to belong, feel like part of a group, community, or team– it’s an essential human need. We aim to get people hooked on The Yacht Club by increasing their social well-being and connectedness through dodgeball, weekly meetups and social gatherings. Once hooked, we provide the initial opportunities for our players to become active citizens and volunteer. Over time, our players become more invested in the neighborhoods where they play and want to do more good for them… it’s our flywheel toward common good. When our players actively participate and do good for Los Angeles, they feel more invested in Los Angeles. When our players feel more invested in Los Angeles, they want to work toward greater common good. Yes, we recognize dodgeball is fun, but we’re not just a team of players; we are an army of do-gooders. We want Los Angeles to be a better city for everyone and believe that dodgeball is a great entry point for good work in service of LA.

League ambassadors will be charged with creating and managing dodgeball leagues that recruit players who want to have fun and actively do good. We aren’t interested in passive civic engagement– players who simply donate money. Instead our league ambassadors will recruit and invest players to volunteer at Kids Dodgeball because they understand our kids need safe and fun activities in their neighborhood. League ambassadors will steer players toward opportunities of civic engagement like beach cleanups or encourage and support players to coordinate movies-at-the-park (with proceeds going to rec center programming).

When the quality of life raises for our players, the quality of life raise for all Angelenos. By 2050, we want to see The Yacht Club running dodgeball leagues in rec centers across Los Angeles. In 2050, we continue to play in under-resourced neighborhoods, we have players on neighborhood councils and The Yacht Club is a consistent presence at civic events across Los Angeles.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project will benefit the communities we are working to support and all The Yacht Club do-gooders. Our approach to developing programming options for rec centers has always been to start with kids—Yacht Grub (kids cooking), Yacht Plot (community gardening), Yacht Pix (kids photography) and our flagship program, Yacht Crew (Kids Dodgeball), have been built to provide kids with fun, safe and creative experiences that go beyond what they might have access to at school.

What we’ve found over the years is that our players’ social well-being and desire to do good increases when we provide opportunities to volunteer and serve the community. When our players come out to our LA River Cleanup or volunteer at Kids Dodgeball they feel more invested in participating in other Yacht Club events and many eventually expand our civic engagement efforts. For example, when players in our Venice league decided to coordinate a beach cleanup, players from Glassell Park and North Hollywood joined the “player-based” community effort. The event was created and coordinated by players who were inspired to do more.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks: Directors and staff at the rec centers where we play are vital partners in our project. Their commitment and understanding of the positive impact The Yacht Club can have are essential to our success. We will work to identify the specific needs of each park, design programs to match these needs, and gain community investment and feedback to ensure these programs become a sustainable and consistent part of regular programming. (ie. In Glassell Park this summer, when parents found out Kids Dodgeball was not part of Summer Night Lights programming, they petitioned to incorporate it and The Yacht Club pulled 20 committed volunteers to support 8 Friday nights of Kids Dodgeball.)

Community-based organization and leaders: Our leadership team and league ambassadors will work to identify and build strategic relationships with community-based organizations and leaders in each new neighborhood we intend to serve.

Leadership consultants: Our leadership team has secured committed time from consultants to design of tools and development programming for our league ambassadors. We’ll also work with our current league ambassadors and our board to leverage established best practices.

WeAreGiants: WeAreGiants. is a civic-minded marketing and design agency based in Downtown Los Angeles. WAG. has been engaged in many projects for the City of Los Angeles: Jose Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative, CicLAvia, and the redevelopment of Pershing Square. WAG. will provide design and marketing services (branding, logos, flyers, etc.) for the league expansions.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Rates of volunteerism: Over the past 5 years The Yacht Club has positively impacted rates of volunteerism in Los Angeles. By creating events around the LA River Cleanup, Highland Park Community Cleanup and partnerships with the SPCA, No Kill Los Angeles, and Heal the Bay, hundreds of our players have volunteered to improve the quality of life in our city. Our youth programming at the four rec centers we serve has involved over 120 Yacht Club members to provide Kids Dodgeball, Yacht Pix, Yacht Plot, and Yacht Grub.

Adults getting sufficient social and emotional support: The Yacht Club has become a proven place for adults to forge new relationships, strengthen existing ones and improve the well-being of other Angelenos through civic engagement. Our league ambassadors and captains actively encourage players to show up to team meetups and socialize. The Yacht Club even links game advantages to this metric. For example, teams gain points for having their players attend social, volunteer and community events that they later trade in for game advantages.

Attendance at cultural events: Over the past 3 years we’ve encouraged our members to participate in events like CicLAvia by hosting dodgeball games along the route and organizing group rides. The support and enthusiasm our members displayed with our CicLAvia events led us to form ERYCYCLE, a bike riding and advocacy group. ERYCYCLE hosts bike rides like “Tour de Taco,” dedicated to exploring LA through our best tacos, and the ride to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, where leaders from the east, west and north organized individual bike rides converging in Culver City.

Participation in neighborhood council: In April 2014 The Yacht Club designed a “get out the vote” campaign to increase the awareness and participation in Glassell Park and Highland Park’s neighborhood council elections. In Glassell Park the 2014 voter turnout doubled that of 2012 (the prior election year). Four Yacht Club members ran for office in these elections, with 2 members winning a seat in Glassell Park and 1 member winning a seat in Highland Park.

With the addition of six new leagues across Los Angeles, our impact will continue to grow toward making Los Angeles the best place to connect by 2050. Angelenos will inevitably join rec leagues; expanding The Yacht Club will mean that more Angelenos will be involved in leagues actively working to make Los Angeles a better place for all.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We’ve identified the following metrics to measure success:

  1. Players volunteer in Yacht Club civic activities
  2. Players are invested in The Yacht Club vision
  3. League ambassadors work to realize The Yacht Club vision

During our planning meeting in October, we’ll identify targets for each metric. For example for Metric #1, we’ll identify how many activities will be offered and how many volunteers (new and consistent) we aim to have. Data will be collected to measure progress toward each target. For example for Metric #1, we’ll log volunteers at each event and review past logs to identify how many “new” volunteers we were able to cultivate.

In order to collect data on Metrics #2 - 3, we’ll use feedback surveys. Data will be compiled by the project coordinator and presented to the board committee to drive project improvements.

League ambassador feedback surveys will be given after selection and during each retreat. League ambassadors will evaluate the following key indicators on a 1 (strongly disagree) - 7 (strongly agree scale):

Overall Satisfaction • I feel positively about being a league ambassador for The Yacht Club. • I am giving my best effort to my work as a league ambassador for The Yacht Club.

Team Collaboration and Support • League ambassadors and Yacht Club family pitch in to help meet deadlines, reach goals and generally make my experience as a league ambassador awesome.

Cohort Culture • I believe our team is vision-aligned and pushes each other stay focused on the common good. • I feel motivated and inspired by The Yacht Club’s vision.

Development and Yacht Club support • I receive positive feedback from our team and The Yacht Club. • I have the resources (materials, relationships) I need to successfully launch and lead a league.

Player feedback surveys will be given at the end of each season. Players will evaluate the following key indicators on a 1 (strongly disagree) - 7 (strongly agree scale):

Overall Satisfaction • I feel awesome about playing dodgeball with The Yacht Club.

League Culture • Yes, we get together to play dodgeball, but we also do good. • I have a friend on my team.

Communication • Communication from my captains and the league is clear and timely. • My captain did a good job of clearly explaining the rules on my first day.

League Ambassador • My ambassador made me feel welcomed. • My ambassador did a good job explaining the Yacht Club vision. • I feel comfortable talking to my ambassador about any concerns

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The two major lessons informing our solution to make LA the best place to connect by 2050 have to do with talent and civic engagement. What we’ve learned in six years is that we need to recruit the right people to be league ambassadors, and then we need to develop and support them to be the leaders their communities need. With regards to civic engagement, we believe people genuinely want to be involved in their communities, but too often there is a lack of information and social motivation to get involved.

The Yacht Club believes we have a responsibility to select and invest in the leaders we’re putting forth to positively impact our neighborhoods. In Stage 1, we’ll design a recruitment and cultivation plan with clear strategies such as a social media campaign and referral incentives to identify candidates. We will establish a league ambassador role description with clear competencies and indicators based on what we’ve observed works. There will be a selection process that includes an application, interviews and role-plays. In Stage 1, we will also design a 10-month long scope and sequence of development and support to prepare ambassadors to lead sustainable leagues beyond their start-up year.

With the right communication strategy and incentives we can motivate more Angelenos to take pride and become involved in their community. Currently, we have an active social media presence that we use to inform our members of our events. We work with WAG. to create a unique voice, graphics and design that get us noticed and that appeal to our players on social media as well as email. Our league ambassadors will receive training and toolkits along with a style guide to support their outreach efforts. We may think of ourselves as an army of do-gooders, but we’re human too and let’s be honest social motivation and incentives really work on us. League ambassadors will learn how to establish and maintain The Yacht Club culture among teams and captains. Incentives, like our discounted summer league registration (players who commit to volunteering at Kids Dodgeball for 8 summer weeks pay a discounted rate, while non-volunteer player’s cover the difference) incentivize our players to volunteer. Our league ambassadors will be able to leverage best practices like this and share other ways of incentivizing and informing their players of civic engagement opportunities.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Given our experience expanding from one to four neighborhoods and one additional city (Detroit), we believe that the first three months are key to the success of our project. Given this, we’ve intentionally scoped out the first three months of work to recruit, select and develop the right league ambassadors:

Month 1: • Launch recruitment campaign • Hold board meeting to establish roles/responsibilities related to project accountability • Design selection materials • Create scope and sequence for league ambassador support and development • Create outreach and media toolkits

Month 2: • Select league ambassadors • Host League Ambassador Retreat #1, October 2014 • Establish league launch benchmarks/targets • Begin weekly check-ins with league ambassadors focused on league launch

Month 3: • Host League Ambassador Retreat #2, November 2014 • Ongoing weekly check-in with league ambassadors focused on league launch

During months 4 – 12 of our project, The Yacht Club will host monthly check-in calls focused on sharing out of best practices and updating the group on progress toward targets. The Yacht Club will hold a final League Ambassador Retreat #3, March 2015.

To date, we hold bi-annual board meetings. Should we become an LA2050 grantee, we will move to holding quarterly board meetings and establish an LA2050 grant committee to provide monthly support and oversight of project implementation and evaluation.

We have built a large network over the last six years that if leveraged well, could be key to a successful project implementation. We currently have 2,000 names on our Yacht Club email list. These names are active players, former players and friends who have supported us throughout the years. It’s likely that some of our new league ambassadors will be from within our network, it’s also likely we’ll be able to re-engage former players in our new communities. Our recruitment plan will identify clear ways to engage and leverage our current network as we implement our project.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Given our experiences over the last six years, we believe the two major challenges we’ll encounter are outreach and building social trust within the community. Expanding to new communities means first learning about the community and how to be most successful there. We recognize that each neighborhood in Los Angeles has unique needs that we need to understand, and has established leaders who we need to learn from and invest in our project. As we expand to new neighborhoods, social trust needs to be cultivated and maintained through thoughtful relationship building, community outreach and following through on commitments.

We want to continue working in communities where the need for community involvement and development is high. In order to do this, our recruitment campaign for new league ambassadors will focus on the following key regional areas— Boyle Heights, Downtown, East LA, Mid-City and South LA. In order for The Yacht Club vision to be actualized, our leagues will partner with rec centers in traditionally under-resourced communities. We plan to leverage our current network and build relationships with active community-based organizations in each of our key regional areas.

A cornerstone of our league ambassador development and support will be building social trust in new communities. You see it’s been our experience that when we walk into new rec centers for the first time and tell them we want to play dodgeball AND provide opportunities to expand youth programming, they’re weary. They think there’s a catch. Our rec centers in communities like Glassell Park and North Hollywood aren’t used to young professionals coming in and offering the resources (equipment, volunteers, time, etc.) to support their community with nothing wanted in exchange. Our league ambassadors will receive a community outreach toolkit, learning from our own successes and failures, and design a clear plan to build social trust in their intended neighborhood.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach