2021 Grants Challenge

Leveling the Playing Field for Black Youth, Girls, and Teens through Dodgers RBI

Through Dodgers RBI, LADF levels the playing field for low-income communities and those experiencing social injustices by making baseball/softball more accessible to racial/ethnic minority youth, refurbishing dilapidated fields in underserved areas, and delivering health, educational, racial equity and leadership development resources to promote healing for Los Angeles’ most vulnerable youth. Black youth, girls, and teens are significantly underrepresented in sports, and why we focus on recruiting these groups to participate in Dodgers RBI.


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

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 62% of youth living in poverty have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs), which significantly impact a child’s development and social-emotional functioning. Studies also show poverty disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minority youth, making it a social and racial justice issue. The impact of poverty is great, leading to diminished health and decreased readiness to learn and graduate from high school for Black and Brown youth, which only grows more severe, as the low-income communities where they live are exposed to traumatic experiences associated with poor housing, food and income insecurity, limited resources, inadequate schools, and high crime and violence. The COVID-19 pandemic compounded these effects while illuminating the social disparities and systemic oppressions plaguing Black and Brown, and low-income communities, which further demonstrates the need for racial equity and social justice support.

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

LADF works closely with Parks and Recreation departments and non-profit organizations to make baseball/softball more accessible to racial/ethnic minority youth and to recruit Black youth, girls, and teens to participate in Dodgers RBI. Once in the program, these groups gain access to resources that promote healthier life outcomes, including college tours and workshops, STEM education, racial equity curriculum, mental wellness support, health, dental and vision screenings, free glasses, fitness and nutrition clinics, and more. Coaches and parents/caregivers are incredible resources to promote a child's healthy development, which is why we offer coaches training and parent workshops centered around trauma-informed approaches in Dodgers RBI. Here, coaches, parents and caregivers receive training on how to create intergenerational, healing environments where youth can grow social-emotional learning (SEL) attributes, such as positive identity, discipline, and pro-social connections. Seeing racial equity, social justice support, and leadership development as critical needs of the youth we serve, Dodgers RBI also provides RISE leadership workshops for youth, coaches, and parents to empower them to be community leaders. RISE leadership workshops cover Identity, Diversity Concepts, Perspective Taking, Privilege, Sports as a Vehicle for Change, Civic Engagement, Leadership, and Goal Setting, and will help Black youth, girls, and teens in Dodgers RBI grow in critical areas of life.

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

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

Direct Impact: 7,000

Indirect Impact: 4,490

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

According to a recent survey by Hello Insight and Laureus USA, sports-based youth development (SBYD) programs, like Dodgers RBI, are highly important for youth development, as they play a significant role in growing the social, emotional learning (SEL) skills of youth. This study found a particularly strong impact between SBYD and SEL among young men of color and youth in under-resourced communities, making it clear that Dodgers RBI is more important now than ever. Research shows strong SEL skills give youth the ability to manage themselves, as they engage with the world, build and maintain relationships, and face challenges. Strong SEL skills are necessary to be successful in school, career and life. This is why we are committed to ensure sports and SEL opportunities are made accessible to low-income youth through Dodgers RBI, so they are not only healthier in the short-term, but also more confident, equipped and successful to achieve their dreams in the long-term.

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

To measure success of Dodgers RBI on the social-emotional development of youth, we use pre/post-program and workshop surveys, demographic data collection, focus groups with youth, parents/guardians and coaches, and interviews with Dodgers RBI partners. LADF’s Manager of Strategy & Impact oversees data collection and analyzes assessments at the start and end of the Dodgers RBI program to determine youth’s physical and social-emotional development through sport. Evaluation from 2019 found 77% of Dodgers RBI players ages 5-8 reported an increase or maximum feeling of safety at the park and 73% reported an increase or maximum feeling of Self-Confidence. Using the Hello Insight Tool by Algorhythm, LADF also found 97% of Dodgers RBI players ages 9-18 succeeded in social-emotional learning development, gaining in at least one SEL capacity, and nearly two-thirds (65%) developed in 3 or more SEL capacities, like social connections, academic self-efficacy, and self-management, to name a few.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Up2Us Sports, Positive Coaching Alliance, and We Coach will provide parents/caregivers, coaches, and volunteers with coaches training that includes trauma-informed approaches and positive youth development strategies, so adults involved in the program are equipped to offer powerful support to Dodgers RBI players. Through RISE, Dodgers RBI participants will participate in a multi-week leadership program to be leaders in addressing racism and improving race relations. The program will cover how to break barriers, build trust and create pathways for positive communication. RISE will also help facilitate parent workshops, to discuss the power of sport to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion and to create positive change in the areas of race and equality.

Which of the PLAY metrics will you impact?​

Youth sports participation

Access to open space and park facilities

Parks with intergenerational play opportunities

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE