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Trends in the 2021 My LA2050 Grants Challenge PLAY Category

Posted April 28, 2021 by LeAnn Kelch and Jake Bishop

At LA2050, the PLAY category represents our vision that the Los Angeles region will provide abundant, enjoyable recreational opportunities for people of all ages. By the year 2050, people from across Los Angeles will live in close proximity to vibrant park spaces and have easy access to high-quality, sustainable venues to get active, explore the outdoors, and appreciate our natural environment. All residents will feel a sense of safety and belonging in their neighborhoods.

We noticed four trends in the 34 submissions this year's PLAY category:

  1. Several submissions focused on expanding play equity and access to sports and recreation in Los Angeles. This year, there was a particular emphasis on increasing access to historically-exclusive sports such as golf, tennis, lacrosse, and surfing. Some of the applicants seeking to ensure Angelenos can participate in any sport of their choosing are the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Harlem Lacrosse, the SCGA Foundation, Color the Water, and the Sloane Stephens Foundation.
  2. The PLAY category emphasizes getting outside and being active; but often, there is much more to recreation than meets the eye. Several of this year's submitters proposed proposals that demonstrate the impact of playing with purpose. For example, Creative Acts uses art, music, and theatre games to foster civic engagement in youth and East Side Riders Bike Club gives young people an alternative to drugs and gangs through cycling. Other applicants addressing our communities' deeper needs through play include the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Project:Camp, Books and Buckets, and Up2Us Sports.
  3. After more than a year spent indoors due to COVID-19, Angelenos are ready to reconnect with our region's natural and urban environments. A number of this year's applicants focused on building back these connections and inspiring Angelenos to explore their surroundings – whether CicLAvia's plan for a WalkLAvia or, LA Audubon's and Nature for All's outdoor programming.
  4. Another important aspect of PLAY is having access to high-quality, safe spaces for recreation. For that reason, several of this year's submissions focused on improving the quality of parks and green spaces in Los Angeles neighborhoods. Organizations seeking to ensure that all Angelenos are the Integrated Recovery Network, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, and Urban Peace Institute.

Project Camp proposes setting up pop-up day camps to support children, parents, and communities in the aftermath of disasters.

The East Side Riders Bike Club team gives children in Watts an alternative to gangs and drugs through group bike rides, teaching bicycle safety, and advocating for more bike lanes. Their proposal seeks funding to continue this work.

The Ready, Set, Gold! program from the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games seeks to promote healthy, active lifestyles to children in local schools.

Angel City Alliance seeks to encourage people with disabilities to reach their fullest potential and engage with their communities through a broad spectrum of adaptive wellness opportunities for adults and children.

"Art Attacks!" — the application from Creative Acts — focuses on the organization's work to civically engage incarcerated youth through visual art, music, and theatre games.

SCGA Foundation applied for its programming using golf as a vehicle for youth development and bringing equity to the game.

The proposal from Brady Center focuses on mobilizing young Angelenos to engage in ending gun violence through a supply-side approach.

Sprouts of Promise plans to partner with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council to ensure all LA kids have access to growing vegetables with a brand new mobile farm on wheels!

Applicant Street Soccer USA, in partnership with ThinkWatts, seeks funding to build accessible futsal courts on unused land and hire and retain local community staff for its youth programs.

For its submission, CicLAvia proposes launching "WalkLAvia" – a dedicated week for Angelenos to get back outside and have fun, also addressing the social and emotional toll of COVID-19.

Tree of Life Child and Family Services applied to the My LA2050 Grants Challenge to support opportunity youth in South LA through trauma-informed recreational programming.

The Child Development Institute Early Learning Center in Reseda seeks to implement programming at its outdoor garden area that will provide children ages 0-6 and their families with a multipurpose place to play and bond.

Los Angeles Audubon's "Nature is in PLAY" project aims to connect all Angelenos to the inspiring, energizing, and healing benefits of nature in the city.

The proposal from the Surf Bus Foundation includes the creation of four high school surf teams in regions historically blocked from ocean access plus sustained coaching support, practices, camps, and contests.

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation seeks funding for its RBI initiative focusing on leveling the playing field in baseball and softball for Black youth, girls, and teens in Los Angeles.

"Bikes for the People," the proposal from Bicycle Kitchen/La Bici-Cocina in partnership with Bikerowave and Los Angeles LGBT Center, would provide free bikes, accessories, maintenance, and safety courses to individuals lacking transportation.

Resilient Agency seeks funding to support its re-entry programming and COVID-19 relief services in South LA.

Do you love puppet performances? So does Bob Baker Marionette Theater! Its proposal hopes to launch the "Marionette Mobile" to bring puppet performances to every corner of Los Angeles.

"Why Not? Play in South LA," LA Promise Fund's submission to this year's grants challenge in partnership with NBA player Russell Westbrook, addresses play equity and strives to support students as athletes, activists, and academic achievers.

Through a basketball academy, guided reading and comprehension help, and mentoring, Books and Buckets aims to empower Washington Neighborhood Youth with its proposal.

The Sloane Stephens Foundation believes in using tennis as a vehicle to change the narrative of poverty, health inequity, and educational underdevelopment in Compton.

The “Rethink MacArthur Park" Initiative from the Integrated Recovery Network aims to employ individuals experiencing homelessness in MacArthur Park.

The proposal from the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, “Sail Away Weekends," would provide extraordinary adventures to heal and bond families of Los Angeles homicide victims through a partnership with Justice For Murdered Children.

If Urban Peace Institute becomes a finalist, the organization will use funds to empower peacemakers and community leaders to reduce violence at Harvard Park and ensure children and families feel safe enough to play.

The Children's Lifesaving Foundation is seeking funds for its summer camp, which provides crucial outdoor educational and positive social experiences to transitioning homeless and underserved youth from urban and shelter environments.

"All Aboard for Nature," the proposal from Nature for All, would provide a total of ten free trips to nature 500+ community members without access to transportation, many of whom will visit our nearby public lands for the first time.

The Gasol Foundation's "VIDA! Health and Wellness Compton" submission focuses on empowering children and their families with tools and support to live a healthier lifestyle and improve their overall well-being.

Harlem Lacrosse LA's "Keep PLAYing: High School Program Expansion" seeks to expand the organization's high school lacrosse programs and staff in Inglewood, Compton, and South LA.

Last year, 248 Angelenos died while walking or cycling. Street Simplified LLC applied to this year's grants challenge with a proposal to use artificial intelligence technology and data to reduce crashes on LA streets.

Up2Us Sports understands the "Healing Power of Coaches." That's why its proposal focuses on ramping up the support and training of trauma-informed coaches who will inspire the health and wellbeing of LA youth following COVID-19.

"Youth of Promise," the proposal from Flintridge Center, furthers the organization's work investing in youth exposed to trauma and adverse childhood experiences via after-school programming.

The Los Angeles Community Garden Council seeks funding to build community at the Fountain Community Gardens through workshops and other engagement activities.

"Joyful Antiracist Surf Lessons for BIPOC," the submission from Color the Water, focuses on providing free surf lessons to BIPOC and fighting racism in surf culture.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust applied for funding to continue its work developing healthy, active green spaces in communities that need it most and fostering park equity.