LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2020 Grants Challenge

Keep Playing""

This grant will support and strengthen existing HL-LA programs and launch our “Keep Playing“ initiative aimed at retaining students in our current programs and continuing to serve them over longer periods of time through high school and beyond. This includes keeping middle school students engaged with Harlem Lacrosse’s year-round programming and creating new pathways for alumni of our middle school programs to stay involved and engage directly with HL-LA mentors and coaches.


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

South LA



In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Harlem Lacrosse is not submitting a collaborative proposal, but our work would not be possible without the important contributions of our program partners and our local advisory board. Harlem Lacrosse works alongside the staff at Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) Schools and Walton Middle School and the Compton Unified School District. Harlem Lacrosse - Los Angeles is incredibly grateful for partnerships with local high schools and colleges, lacrosse leagues, corporate partners, and the dedicated work of nearly 50 volunteers who all contribute to meaningful experiences for our players.

What is the need you’re responding to?

In LA, a student’s access to high-quality athletic and extracurricular activities is almost exclusively dictated by zip code. While lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in America, its growth has barely penetrated the invisible boundaries between affluent, mostly white suburbs and low-income, urban neighborhoods. HL-LA seeks to leverage the power of the lacrosse community to focus on growth by bringing the sport to parks and schools that would otherwise never be exposed to the game. HL-LA provides all participants with their first experience in lacrosse - often their first experience with any sport. The student-athletes who comprise HL-LA’s programs are asked to overcome obstacles like poverty, housing and food insecurity, and trauma with fewer programs and tools at their disposal than their more affluent peers. HL-LA levels the playing field by ensuring all participants can be part of a team, compete, and have fun while learning valuable life lessons.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Students in low-income urban schools face many challenges and HL-LA’s unique model is particularly well-suited to meet those specific needs by providing opportunities, relationships, and experiences to put youth on personal pathways to success. Program Directors are professional coaches with years of experience in trauma-informed coaching, urban education, and lacrosse. They are embedded full-time into partner schools; this school-based model transcends the typical recreational sports program by providing daily wrap-around programming. Our programs are free, and include mentoring, study halls, and tutoring as well as year-round lacrosse instruction, practices, games, tournaments, and camps. The results are deep and meaningful relationships between our PD’s and their players, higher engagement, and trust. Harlem Lacrosse players access many opportunities beyond the field, like career counseling, college and HS admissions assistance, and academic support to help them meet their goals.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 250

Indirect Impact: 1,200

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Harlem Lacrosse uses the power of play to break the cycle of generational poverty. We provide high-quality sports, academic support, and enrichment experiences after-school, on weekends, and throughout the summer. It is during these critical times that many underserved children fall behind their peers from more affluent areas, widening the achievement gap.

We believe that a successful progression through adolescence into adulthood is tied to the student’s beliefs about their own future. Harlem Lacrosse inspires children to Aim High: planning for a bright tomorrow while working hard on the field and in the classroom today. Our lacrosse programming builds confidence, teamwork, and perseverance.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

At Harlem Lacrosse – Los Angeles, we often witness transformations. We watch as a shy 6th grader evolves into a vocal leader and team captain; we celebrate as a nervous beginner overflows with confidence and joy after making her first catch. But in our daily programming we also focus on the small wins.

Whether it’s a goal reached or a goal scored, we believe that all participants served by HL-LA will be changed by our program, and that our greatest impact occurs when we serve students over a longer period of time. Participants learn about grit and self-advocacy. They make great strides in their fitness and nutrition. Students learn how to Aim High and set S.M.A.R.T goals, achieve better grades. And most importantly, they are inspired to keep playing.

HL-LA uses multiple tools to evaluate our effectiveness as an organization. To evaluate social-emotional learning we use Hello Insight surveys. We also track academic performance as measured by grades in core classes and physical fitness as measured by the PACER test. To evaluate the depth of participation we look at a few key metrics; hours of participation per year per participant, annual rates of attendance, and year over year retention.

Each year we compile an annual impact report. Some key findings from 2019 were: increases in GPA and attendance, fewer suspensions, and impressive independent school and college acceptances. The most recent report can be found here:

Which of the PLAY metrics will your submission impact?​

Youth sports participation

Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences

Access to open space and park facilities

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation