Everyone has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but not everyone has been affected equally. Communities that were historically marginalized before, have become even more vulnerable. And those communities are largely Black and Brown.
Founded by ESPN and Beyond Sport, the Return to Play Fund (RTPF) will use sport to center health, wellbeing and systemic solutions to the heart of community recovery across the United States.
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR SPORT
Sport provides a powerful platform to promote youth mental and physical wellbeing, address racial inequities and help young people work through trauma.
However, recent data shows that:
- Only 42% of African American and 47% of Hispanic parents anticipate their child resuming sports activities at the same or higher level from before COVID-19 [Project Play, 2021]
- 80% of young people, many poor, do not meet federal guidelines for daily physical activity [ODPHP, 2020]
- Lower income kids are 6x more likely to quit youth sports than their more well-off peers [Aspen Institute, 2020]
RTPF will support nonprofit community sport organizations that are not only dedicated to getting young people of color moving again, but also committed to providing them with guidance and opportunities to grow, succeed and be confident in their abilities. Selected programs will be grounded in accessibility, inclusiveness and accountability.
Guided by an Expert Advisory Council encompassing specialists within and outside of sport, the Fund will help ensure that Black and Brown youth are not further disadvantaged during and coming out of the national rebuilding process. The Council will work together to align on the needs of the communities the Fund will support, set the criteria and help select the beneficiary organizations.
THE FUND WILL PROVIDE SUPPORT ACROSS THREE KEY AREAS:
1. Operations & Strategic Guidance
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of families have reported that their community-based program has closed, merged or returned with limited capacity [Project Play, 2021]. RTPF will provide grants to help youth-based development nonprofits fully resume their operations. Beneficiary organizations will be diverse in scale, approach, location and sport, but all will use sport with intention to positively impact Black and Brown communities in the U.S.
To ensure a whole child approach, the Council will lend their expertise and resources to support the integration of best practices in public health, trauma-informed approaches, diversity, equity and inclusion, monitoring and evaluation and youth sports programming.
Building on the results of a 2021 mapping survey conducted by Beyond Sport and the Play Equity Fund (PEF), the RTPF will financially support PEF’s work to scale impactful programs, including school-based sports, coaching education, infrastructure development and juvenile justice initiatives. PEF invests in research and increases data collections, evaluations, assessments and information sharing to advance solutions to close the play equity gap.
Established by the LA84 Foundation, PEF employs a public awareness approach that educates public leaders at local and state levels to prioritize youth sports and play opportunities in schools, across school districts and at local and regional parks.
Historically, communities of color and low-income communities are much less likely to have access to safe facilities for recreation - which was further exposed by the pandemic. To ensure that spaces for play are not out of reach, the RTPF will fund a group of organizations that are building and refurbishing sustainable play spaces in Black and Brown communities.
Community-based solutions are often more powerful than national responses. The Return to Play Fund is on a mission to use the power of sport, collaboration and direct investment to strengthen communities, champion our youth and stop the perpetuation of racial inequities.
Become a Funding Partner to support and inspire Black and Brown youth who have been challenged the most during the pandemic. For information on how you can join the Return to Play Fund, please contact:
Fred Turner, Executive Director