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The Play Equity Fund Launches the #SPRINGINTOPLAY Campaign to Support Youth Sports and Play Programs
By Sentinel News Service
Published June 4, 2021

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As schools, parks and sports programs reopen after youth have lived within the constraints of home confinement for over a year, the Play Equity Fund is responding by launching the #SpringIntoPlay campaign to support youth sports organizations and nonprofits who are providing access to opportunities for kids to play but are facing critical needs for funding.

Youth across the region had been isolated for over 12 months due to the mandated closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Play Equity Fund has created a pooled fund for the #SpringIntoPlay campaign to support its partner organizations in the after-school enrichment ecosystem who provide organized sports and play programs in underserved communities. After this challenging year, these organizations need operational funding for coaches, play equipment, transportation and additional PPE.

The LA84 Foundation pledged a $500,000 challenge grant to launch the #SpringIntoPlay campaign, and this effort has been joined by the Annenberg Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, the Capital Group, JP Morgan Chase, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and others. The goal of the #SpringIntoPlay campaign is to raise at least $5 million to support the dedicated nonprofit and community partners across greater Los Angeles who are working to help youth socially reconnect with their peers and participate in healthy activities through sports and play.

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The pandemic inflicted its heaviest damage on communities that have endured generations of inequities – where access to health care is limited, where poverty, obesity and numerous other health issues proliferate. The mission of the Play Equity Fund is to bring access to sports and play programs to all kids, regardless of their family’s income, zip code or their socioeconomic standing. In the wake of a pandemic, the Play Equity Fund is now building a unified response to a crisis during this pivotal time as children come out of a year of social isolation.

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In the spirit of urgency and collaboration, the Play Equity Fund is seeking additional philanthropic and corporate partners to join this effort, and appreciates contributions of any amount to #SpringIntoPlay at PlayEquityFund.org to make a positive impact in helping kids across greater Los Angeles who have suffered from stressors that include loneliness, lack of play, school closures, sick family members and other hardships.

The Play Equity Fund is launching the #SpringIntoPlay campaign on May 19 at 4pm at the grand opening of the Ramona Gardens basketball court, located at 1441 Crusado Lane, Los Angeles, 90033. The court was refurbished through a grant from the LA84 Foundation and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation, as part of their 2018 NBA All-Star Game legacy program.

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The refurbishment included a resurfacing of the court, new backboards and rims by Legacy LA. With the court improvements, sports programs have been able to expand to serve 300 kids living in the Ramona Gardens housing development and the surrounding community.

The Play Equity Fund will also distribute free sports equipment at the Ramona Gardens basketball court to families and kids on May 19. Between 200 and 300 youth are expected to attend.

In 2020 when COVID-19 originally shuttered schools, parks and sports programs – leaving kids without an opportunity to play with their peers – the Play Equity Fund distributed over 120,000 pieces of sports equipment directly to kids and families at 60 sites from Compton to Pasadena to encourage healthy activity at home as part of the #StayActiveStayStrong campaign.

The Play Equity Fund is also a partner with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Earn, Learn and Play (ELP) initiative to ensure all youth have recreational opportunities this summer as they prepare for the academic school year. The ELP website includes a map that can help young Angelenos of all ages locate nearby summer programs to enjoy the outdoors, play sports and discover the arts.

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