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SUPPORTING BLACK AND BROWN YOUTH IN THE U.S. AT THE INTERSECTION OF RACE, SPORT AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

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.

THE PROBLEM

Sports and play provision for Black and Brown communities has always been inadequate. And though sports and play are even more critical to child development right now:  

  • 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]
  • 44% of families have reported that their community-based program has closed, merged or returned with limited capacity [Project Play, 2021]
  • Black and Brown kids have less access to safe, affordable play spaces that don't require transportation [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]

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. It 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.

DOWNLOAD THE OVERVIEW

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RECONNECT THROUGH SPORTS

In all its forms, sports and play -  when offered in an intentional way - can make people feel safe, part of and connected, especially kids. Participation can instill community and bring people together to help forge a sense of belonging; sports can be a training ground for developing social and emotional skills that will help individuals, communities and society thrive.

The Return to Play Fund is as much about supporting what's needed right now to bring programs back as it is about advocating for long-term systems change that will result in equitable opportunities for play and sports across the education, health and community landscapes. 

Guided by an Expert Advisory Council encompassing specialists in public health, trauma-informed approaches, diversity, equity and inclusion, monitoring and evaluation and youth sports programming, the Fund will help ensure that Black and Brown youth are not further disadvantaged during and coming out of the national rebuilding process. 

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The fund will invest across three key areas:

1. Operations & Strategic Guidance

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. Regionally, the Fund will support grassroots non-profits embedded in local communities. Nationally, it will support non-profits that have the reach to scale impact exponentially.

The RTPF will also provide knowledge building tools and resources to upskill and build the capacity of community sport organizations. 


2. Advocacy

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.

3. Infrastructure

Historically, communities of color and low-income communities are much less likely to have access to safe facilities for recreation. To ensure that spaces for play are not out of reach, the RTPF will provide grants to a group of best-in-class organizations that are constructing and refurbishing facilities for play and sport in Black and Brown communities. Builds will be fully collaborative, ensuring that community members are active partners in the process. 

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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. 

You can support the Fund as a:

  • Foundation or Private Donor
  • Sport/Corporate Brand Partner
  • State or Federal Partner
  • Agency Partner
  • Athlete Ambassador 

For more information, please contact: Fred Turner, Executive Director of Beyond Sport at [email protected] .

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Return to Play Fund Expert Advisory Council