play / 2021

Why Not? Play in South LA

Why Not? Play in South LA Play Video Play Video Play video on lapromisefund.org

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by LA Promise Fund

Why Not? Play in South LA addresses play equity. In South LA, youth do not have the same access to sports programs as their more affluent peers. LA Promise Fund has partnered with NBA star Russell Westbrook to operate the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy in South LA, with a shared vision centered on the needs of the whole child, striving to support students as athletes, activists and academic achievers. LA2050 funding will support the “athletes” component of this vision, helping us to build a robust sports program.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Why Not? Play in South LA addresses play equity. In South LA and other low-income communities, youth do not have the same access to sports programs at school and through year-round clubs as their more affluent peers. Lack of access to organized sports is coupled with limited green space and unsafe parks. This inequity has been exacerbated by COVID. Across LA County, school sports programs have reopened at private schools and public schools in wealthier areas but remain unavailable to South LA youth. A 2020 report by the LA84 Foundation found that 68% of youth from households with income below 35K participate in sports, compared with 93% of youth from $150K+ households and that lower income households are four times as likely to be inactive. Low-income families cannot afford the costs of year-round club sports, so they are reliant on schools for sports activities, but schools such as Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy do not have the resources to support robust sports programming.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

LA Promise Fund (LAPF) has partnered with NBA star and Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook to operate the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy in South LA, comprised of a middle and high school. Russell and LAPF share a vision for the schools that centers on the needs of the whole child, striving to support students as athletes, activists and academic achievers. LA2050 funding will support the “athletes” component of this vision, helping us to build a robust sports program for both middle and high school students that encompasses girls and boys basketball and soccer, girls volleyball, co-ed cheer/dance, and co-ed cross country. Starting with Russell’s first love, LA2050 fund will support the launch of the basketball program. The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy is partnering with LA84 Foundation and After School All Stars to create a model athletic program, but needs additional funding to bring our vision to fruition. There is an abundance of research showing the positive impacts of sports on both the physical and mental well-being of youth and sports participation vehicle for leadership development. Many of our students at Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy and youth in the broader South LA area have experienced trauma. Our sports program will be developed through a trauma-informed lens so that youth’s participation has healing potential.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

60
Direct impact
240
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Although our initial efforts will focus on school-based sports programming, our longer-term vision is to create opportunities for youth to be involved in year-round club sports, as these opportunities are out of reach for most South LA families. We believe that the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy is the perfect vehicle for spotlighting play equity and creating a replicable model for comprehensive sports programming in lower-income communities that embraces athletics as a key component of healthy youth development. Having an athlete of Russell Westbrook’s caliber supporting South LA youth by partnering with LAPF will bring additional visibility to the issue of play equity, raising awareness across LA County about this critical gap for low-income youth.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We will measure success across three key domains: 1) Leadership: Students will show growth in leadership, as measured by a pre and post survey 2) Physical Fitness: Students will demonstrated increased fitness through improved Body Mass Index scores, increased ability to do push-ups and sit-ups, and decreased mile run time. 3) Mindfulness: Students will be able to identify times of stress/anxiety in their lives and have at least one means of managing or preventing stress/anxiety, as measured by a pre and post survey

Which of the play metrics will you impact?​

  • Obesity
  • Youth sports participation
  • Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences