Street Soccer USA
Community Stakeholder Hiring and Mini Pitch Construction
This grant will support Street Soccer USA's Los Angeles chapter in building highly accessible futsal courts on unused land, and hiring and retaining coaches, site managers and administrators from within the Watts and Long Beach communities. By providing specific access to these employment opportunities and safe play spaces for community stakeholders, we will ensure the continued growth and autonomy of the communities where programs are being provided.
Describe the mission of your organization.
SSUSA Los Angeles is a national sport based youth/community development nonprofit with over a decade experience creating lasting impact in the lives of our participants/families by mobilizing the power of soccer to fight poverty and strengthen communities. In order to do so, we hire community stakeholders to ensure continued community autonomy.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- South LA
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
- LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
At SSUSA - LA, we seek to address a variety of problems, from assisting the unhoused and underserved through transitional avenues like weekly practices and employment opportunities to increasing awareness in health, nutrition and physical activity. Though these problems are all deeply rooted and deserving of our time and resources, our main goal is to provide access to an otherwise restricted environment of soccer engagement. The U.S. has a long history of pay to play, and we are here to change that. We are here to identify convertible spaces that will be used to build mini futsal pitches and expand unfettered, free access to communities that for far too long have been priced out of the sport, and subsequently been led to believe that they are not invited. We’ve found that the most effective way to bridge this equity gap is by employing those from the same communities that we service, so that when the project is at its peak, leadership will be in the hands of those same communities.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
As mentioned in Question 7, we’ve found that the most effective way to bridge this equity gap is by employing those from the same communities that we service, so that when the project is at its peak, leadership will be in the hands of those same communities. In order to that, though, we need to raise the funds necessary to build these spaces. It’s one thing for an organization to come into a community and build, or activate a space. It’s a completely different task to fill those organizational positions with people who understand the nuances, and social and cultural dynamics that are involved in the everyday happenings of the communities where these spaces are created. By doing just that; by providing the opportunities to take ownership of programs and operations in stakeholders’ hometowns and communities, an infrastructure is created so that regardless of who is “in charge” at the present moment, the power and trajectory of the programs will always be in the hands of the community, not outside influences. The model involves identifying adult aged applicants, preferably past participants who are familiar with the structure of programs, vision and mission and training them to take over all operations on a community level. In turn, these employees will identify the next generation of leaders and be primed to have a self sustaining community operation that is so much more than a soccer club, but a space of safety, inclusion and community pride.
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.
Globally, soccer is an urban sport; domestically, the pay to play structure has made it increasingly an affluent, suburban sport, particularly at the club level. Our vision entails creating multiple community clubs across public housing developments and shelters in Watts, Long Beach, Crenshaw, West Adams, Willowbrook, Compton and Inglewood. We are currently operating in two locations in Watts, at the Imperial Courts, and Ted Watkins Park (with Gonzaque Village soon to come); Crenshaw and West Adams through LAUSD partnerships at Audubon Middle School and Cochran Middle School; and on Skid Row at the Union Rescue Mission. Our work will be successful when we can provide a community club in each of these target neighborhoods and hold numerous weekly practices at each site (with academic tutoring resources available onsite) and weekend Street Leagues where participants can confidently and proudly compete and represent their respective communities in a safe and healthy fashion.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
With a combination of partnerships with 3rd party organizations, such as Salesforce and UpMetrics, we currently track participation, retention, age, gender, ethnicity, and school location. Though new, we have recently started to integrate our Salesforce data into the UpMetrics system in order to correlate participation and retention rates in programs with retention and graduation rates in academic settings. Furthermore, we will enhance the specificity of these metrics by leveraging our partnerships with LAUSD so that we can track and correlate participation and retention rates with academic performance.
Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.
ThinkWatts is a dedicated partner and community based organization truly representative of and committed to the promise of social and economic change in Watts. Led by local activist and rapper Stix, ThinkWatts provides a multitude of resources for the community, from STEM coding labs, to creating open spaces for play. We are proud to collaborate on this project, as they will act as the primary site for where a community pitch will be located. We will work together to identify the most at need participants. We currently work with ThinkWatts in activating a number of other projects that they have in the works, and this pitch will present a HUB location for both ThinkWatts as a recreation and tutoring space, as well as one for free developmental soccer programs on behalf of Street Soccer USA.
Which of the play metrics will you impact?
- Youth sports participation
- Prevalence of trauma and adverse childhood experiences
- Access to open space and park facilities
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
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