ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--National non-profit Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, powered by Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), has invested an initial $1 million to fund grants to youth development organizations in three of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods. This investment, also supported by the National Recreation Foundation, is the first phase of a $3 million commitment that will expand pathways of success for Westside youth. These grants will help facilitate the growth of 14 out of school programs using sport to improve the health, education, employment and social and emotional well-being of local youth.
On Monday, July 17, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., over 300 Westside youth and their families will enjoy sports, games and food with the 14 awarded organizations at historic Washington Park. Together, Laureus USA and Mercedes-Benz USA will officially kick-off Sport for Good Atlanta with the support of the National Recreation Foundation, Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC. The Sport for Good Atlanta Kickoff is also an official stop on Nickelodeon’s summer-long celebration of play, leading up to the network’s 14th annual Worldwide Day of Play. The event will incorporate Nick-themed games and activities to encourage more active lifestyles for the local community.
“We are excited to support 14 Sport for Good programs in Atlanta’s Westside, as they give youth a constructive outlet to develop confidence, set goals, and connect with adult mentors,” said Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus USA and Olympic Gold Medalist in Track and Field. “By providing these grants, we are empowering these organizations to work together and make an even bigger impact. One program alone cannot solve the challenges our research identified, which is why we are building a team of passionate programs that can make our long-term goals of reducing violence and improving educational attainment, achievable.”
“Mercedes-Benz USA places a high priority on nurturing leadership and for decades has supported programs focused on educating and empowering the next generation,” said Dietmar Exler, CEO of MBUSA. “Sport for Good Atlanta will provide young people with tools they need to reach their full potential. We look forward to working closely with Laureus USA and our other partner organizations to help create a sustainable future for the youth of the Westside.”
Westside Community Engagement Revealed Need for Meaningful Sports Opportunities
This effort is the result of Laureus USA’s thoughtful engagement with Westside community leaders, coaches, parents and youth over the course of the past year. Beginning in the summer of 2016, Laureus worked with Families First (who has served the Atlanta community for over 125 years) to convene local residents of all ages to understand the current landscape of sports opportunities in the Westside, and how these programs could be repositioned to address the greatest challenges that local youth face.
Laureus USA surveyed over 400 residents, over half of which were youth aged 12-18. They found violence, drugs and gang activity to be the greatest challenges faced by youth growing up in the focus neighborhoods. In addition, a troubling 73% of respondents cited affordability as the highest barrier between youth and sports participation.
In direct response to these needs, Laureus USA is now funding a diverse range of sports activities including baseball, basketball, soccer, cycling, fishing, golf, tennis, gymnastics as well as track and field. These free programs will be available to Westside youth in the Vine City, English Avenue and Washington Park areas.
This long-term commitment will help strengthen the English Avenue, Vine City, and Washington Park neighborhoods through the power of sport.
About Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA - Laureus USA is a national non-profit organization advancing the nationwide movement to use Sport for Good. We invest in programs that are effectively using sport to improve the health, education, employment and social cohesion of disadvantaged youth. Since 2012, we have impacted over 480,000 youth across 110 U.S. cities by investing in programs that use sport for social change. We have also supported the training of over 3,300 coaches who now serve as youth mentors in underserved communities. Learn more about Sport for Good at www.LaureusUSA.com.
About Mercedes-Benz USA - Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), the sales and marketing arm for Mercedes-Benz in the United States, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz products. For the 60 years Mercedes-Benz has operated in this country, the company has been an integral part of the communities in which it does business and the neighborhoods where its employees live and work.
On a national level, MBUSA provides multi-million dollar support to programs through partnerships with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA (a nationwide network of youth sports programs improving health, education, employment and social cohesion in underserved communities) and the Johnny Mac Foundation which provides scholarships to children of fallen soldiers. In Atlanta, MBUSA is involved with over 50 organizations in its effort to empower and enable the next generation and address local needs in its community including Atlanta’s Westside, a fast-developing area surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that includes under-resourced neighborhoods. Here, MBUSA partners with multiple organizations working to create a sustainable future for the youth of the Westside.
About The National Recreation Foundation - The National Recreation Foundation (NRF) is a private charitable foundation dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth. NRF invests in recreation programs directed at those who are economically, physically or mentally disadvantaged.