play Winner / 2021
Love, Love, Compton - Sloane Stephens Foundation
US Open Champion Sloane Stephens launched Love, Love Compton in 2015 to combat social, economic, and academic inequalities in Compton by creating educational opportunities and safe spaces to play and grow. SSF’s tennis programming is designed to positively impact the lives of our students far beyond the tennis court. SSF believes in the transformative power of healthy habits, self-confidence, and education, and uses tennis as our vehicle to change the narrative of poverty, health inequity, and educational underdevelopment in Compton.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- South LA
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Love, Love Compton began in 2015 to combat social, economic, and academic inequalities in Compton through year-round educational pathways and safe places to play and grow. Our Compton community is one of the most dangerous in the country, with a homicide rate higher than 95.7% of US cities. The need for safe play areas is critical in a city where crime and poverty are a daily reality for the majority of its residents. It can be too dangerous to walk to and from the tennis courts alone, particularly for our youngest students, and many parents are unable to pick up their children based on their work schedules and other commitments. Improving access to free and safe play is vital in a community where about 60% of residents are under the age of 16. The students we serve are 30% Black and 67% Latinx, and 99% will be first-generation college attendees. About 60% of children in Compton live below 200% of the federal poverty level, and 100% of our students are eligible for free/reduced lunch.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Tennis is a sport that has high economic barriers to entry, and is often perceived to be an upper class sport. We deeply believe in eradicating these barriers so our youth can be exposed to the physical, emotional, and social benefits of a lifelong sport and understand that there are no limits or barriers to their dreams. Our Love, Love Compton programming exposes >2,000 Compton youth to tennis annually and incorporates after-school, recess, summer, and weekend tennis and academic tutoring to teach children the fundamentals of tennis in a safe, supportive environment. While playing tennis, children have fun, improve their overall physical fitness, and learn to manage adversity, solve problems, and develop a sense of fair play. SSF provides Love, Love Compton students with free instruction, equipment, and individualized academic enrichment. All of our programming takes place on Compton Unified campuses so that families can be reassured knowing that their children are somewhere familiar and safe. Our program is innovative in its approach and community-first model. 100% of SSF coaches are from Compton, and we develop and retain them to be community leaders and role models. All current coaches are graduates of our program and have chosen to stay involved while pursuing their own higher-education. All of our academic tutors are CUSD educators, and this extra level of familiarity allows us to quickly target a child’s specific needs and be cognizant of their outside circumstances.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Through our work, more underserved children in LA County will have safe places and opportunities to play, grow, and dream. Children are empowered to learn a new sport and develop the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in and out of the classroom. With every new child we serve, we impact an entire family, and over time, a generation. Our 100% high-school graduation rate is a transformative achievement that meaningfully improves job prospects and earning potential. By learning to play tennis and having opportunities to be physically active, our community becomes healthier and children have opportunities to compete with integrity, create new life experiences, and develop leadership skills. Short term, we achieve these goals by introducing as many kids as possible to tennis. Through this consistent and sustained work, it feeds our long term goal of creating pathways to generational change by using tennis as our vehicle to promote healthy active lifestyles and academic excellence.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
SSF is described by CUSD Superintendent Dr. Darin Brawley as the district’s “most successful and influential non-profit relationship.” Since 2015, Love, Love Compton has expanded from 3 elementary schools to serving over 2,000 students annually across 19 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and two high schools. 100% of our students graduate from high school, and 100% go on to a 2 or 4 year college. We continue to refine evaluation metrics such as improved fitness, healthy nutrition habits and better academic/social performance. We seek significant results that are both quantitative and qualitative, short and long-term, as our ultimate goals of improving equity, creating the next generation of tennis players, and fostering positive generational change. SSF tracks overall programming success by evidence of: 1. Growth of tennis activity in CUSD 2.100% graduation rate across cohorts 3. Observable improvements in attendance, chronic behavioral problems and academic performance.
Which of the play metrics will you impact?
- Youth sports participation
- Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE