The City of Lawrence’s Youth Empowerment grant had a profound Impact on young people and the greater Lawrence community. It collectively supported 63 paid youth leadership positions over three months, ensured the return of the City’s first multi-sport leadership academy at Lawrence High School that benefited 124 Lawrence middle and high schoolers, funded a related twice-weekly “Youth Empowerment & Mentor Model” for the program’s youth-hire beneficiaries, with topics ranging from healthy relationships, goal-setting, and mindfulness, plus advanced LSA’s mission that is tackling sport and health inequities that have only worsened since the pandemic.
After almost 18 months of young people being disconnected from regular in-person sports, play, learning, and recreation, it was critical for Lawrence sports groups to come together, share resources, and re-engage as many young people as possible when city fields and courts were reopened last May. City funding through this grant was essential in meeting those objectives during a crucial time for engagement, only further exacerbated by the concerns and challenges following George Floyd’s murder.
This grant undeniably helped the sports community “empower more young people” by reducing its previously siloed and less efficient approaches to positive youth development. It unified and strengthened both the capacity and reach of the sixteen (16) like-minded youth-serving Alliance Members so that low-income youth, disproportionately affected by the adverse health, educational and economic consequences of Covid-19, could benefit from positive youth jobs experiences and mentorship that kept them engaged, productive, leading and compensated while they simultaneously supported younger Lawrence kids through a busy menu of camps, clinics, tournaments, programs, and events.
Below are some of those grant-term highlights: