Coaching Corps Activates Resources During COVID-19 in Response to Urgent Needs of Children and Families in Low-Income Communities

Coaching Corps is working closely with community partners, school districts and food banks to meet the immediate and ongoing calls for food and basic necessities from families facing hardship 

CONTACT: Jessica Scadron, 415-713 9150, jscadron@socialharmony.co 

OAKLAND, Calif. – April 8, 2020 – Coaching Corps, an organization that normally recruits and trains volunteers to be sports mentors to kids living in low-income communities, is mobilizing its resources in new ways to connect people who want to help during the coronavirus pandemic to immediate volunteer opportunities. For those who may not be able to volunteer, they can make donations to purchase basic necessities families desperately need, such as diapers, formula and hygiene products. 

With the closure of schools and afterschool programs, many children and families are unsure where to get their next meal. The majority of children Coaching Corps serves depend on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs to avoid going hungry. Their parents and caretakers often have jobs that do not offer sick pay or work-from-home options, and must make the difficult decision to leave their children without the critical support of instructors and institutions that help keep them safe, fed, and out of trouble.  

Coaching Corps is uniquely qualified to fill this need,” said Janet Carter, president and CEO of Coaching Corps. “Our infrastructure and staff are built to activate large numbers of volunteers as coaches. We have the technology and the skillset to get volunteers, and donations, to sites on the frontlines to help ensure families do not endure further adversity. 

Food banks work at capacity during normal times. Now with the coronavirus, they expect to double, perhaps triple their output in the coming weeks. They estimate a 40% or more drop in the volunteer workforce, which means the need to get meals to those who need them is dire. 

The situation is acute:  

  • In Oakland, California where Coaching Corps is headquartered, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) estimates that roughly 50,000 kids who rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs to avoid going hungry are now vulnerable. Oakland currently has 12 sites delivering meals. According to OUSD, since day one of service, the number of meals provided has quadrupled, with that number expected to balloon. 
  • Los Angeles Unified School District, where nearly 700,000 students, almost 80% who are from families living in poverty, served 374,052 meals in one day, helping more people than any food bank in the country.   
  • San Francisco Unified School District reports distributing roughly 40,000 meals per day, with those numbers expected to increase. 
  • San Diego Unified School District, California’s second largest district, reported giving out over 50,000 meals in its first week of distribution.

We already work with limited resources in normal circumstances,” said Bobby Miller, director of operations at Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program. “Now with COVID-19, our volunteer team has been greatly reduced, making it much harder to help the families we support, and the many more who now come to us because they cannot workWithout the help of Coaching Corps’ efforts to recruit volunteers, we would not be able to distribute the 20 tons of food each week to the hundreds of families we are helping. 

With shelter-in-place mandates, food distribution is considered a government-approved essential serviceCoaching Corps is taking necessary safety precautionsThose interested in volunteering are referred to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to determine if they are high-risk, and if not, to decide for themselves if they are comfortable volunteering. It is crucial that volunteers self-select and make decisions about their own safety. Coaching Corps continues to confirm with partners that they are following CDC-recommended safety protocols of social distancing, wearing protective gear and sanitizing workspaces, and is following up with partners to ensure safety precautions are being maintained.  

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About Coaching Corps:
Since 2002, Coaching Corps has been fueling a movement of skilled coaches to give youth in low-income communities the sports mentors they want and deserve. By partnering with over 500 afterschool programs across the country, Coaching Corps has provided more than 200,000 underprivileged kids with the opportunity to play sports under the guidance of a caring, well-trained coach. Informed by the latest research on youth character development, Coaching Corps trains coaches to foster persistence, optimism, self-regulation and empathy in kids, providing coaches with the ongoing support they need to ensure children in under-resourced communities learn skills that last lifetimes. Learn more about Coaching Corps at www.CoachingCorps.org. 

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Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Benita Vargas-Brown, Volleyball Coach at Hampstead Hill Academy

Benita Vargas-Brown grew up in one of the poorest parts of Baltimore. She always wanted to make a difference in the city, which is why she became a social worker. That same passion eventually led her to coach and mentor kids in sports. Learn more about Benita’s journey in her own words.
How did you become a Coaching Corps coach?
I didn’t go looking for coaching, it found me. I was really stressed with my job and my final semester in undergrad, so my husband said, “You’re really not helping yourself. Why don’t you leave your job, take the semester off, and figure out what you want to do next?” So, I went to a volunteering fair, and that’s when I got to know Coaching Corps. It was destiny: They were looking for a volleyball coach, and I am qualified to coach volleyball. They said they needed a coach for Hampstead Hill Academy, which is literally just a walk away from our home. So, it was really perfect.
Can you tell us more about the challenges that the kids you coach face at school and at home?
When people hear Baltimore, crime and violence are among the usual challenges that come to mind, so it was extra important to keep the kids off the streets. I’ve had to drive some of the girls home so they don’t have to take the bus when it’s dark.
There have also been some differences among the girls. The school is located at Patterson Park, where on one side you have the million-dollar houses, and on the other you have boarded-up houses. So you wind up having kids coming from privileged and underprivileged situations. This created some interesting dynamics within the team that led to some difficult conversations, but we got through it eventually. That’s one of the benefits of team sports. We got this whole learning experience that wound up really positive at the end.
You mentioned something about “interesting team dynamics.” Can you share more about that?
This is actually one of the things I’m proudest [of] about my team. The girls take it upon themselves to address differences within the group. At one point, it became very clear during our practice that something wasn’t right. We were on this championship drive but there was obvious tension within the team. The girls came to me and gathered as a group to talk things through. The fact that they came up with that strategy on their own is really amazing. For me, it meant that we’re doing something right. After that talk, we got back together as a team. I’m so glad we did it because I know for a fact we wouldn’t have won the championship without sorting things out. Everybody makes mistakes. At the end of the day, what’s important is to be there and have each other’s backs.
What changes or improvements did you see in the girls as a result of being on the team?
The most obvious one would be the sense of maturity. To be in a position where you have a responsibility over something, to be able to practice and play, there are expectations. If you didn’t come to practice on Wednesday, you’re not going to play on Thursday: that’s the consequence for skipping practice.  Eventually it wasn’t the consequence that really drove them. It was their commitment.
All my [Coaching Corps] girls who tried out for high school sports made their teams. There are two highly-rated schools in Baltimore, Baltimore Polytechnic institute and Baltimore City College. To get into those schools is every parent’s and kid’s dream. They have great education and high graduation rates, and they don’t tolerate gang-related violence, which creates a safer environment for the kids. Fifteen of the girls from the team got in and played for Poly while 13 went to City. That makes me really happy.
Wow! If there’s one way to describe success and promoting equity, that would be it. With all these experiences, what advice would you give aspiring coaches and mentors for kids?
Show up. You have to be there. You have to be consistent. You can’t cancel on these kids. Over the course of my time, if I know something’s going to come up in my schedule, I plan for an assistant coach to take over. Kids know if you care. You can figure out everything else, there are Youtube videos for that. You just have to show up because these kids expect you to be there for them.
Afterschool Partners

Orlando

Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida

City of Orlando Athletics

Afterschool Program Partners

Other

JT Dorsey Foundation

Afterschool Program Partners

San Diego

Gompers Preparatory Academy

High Tech High

La Maestra Foundation – Center for Youth Advancement at Generations

The Monarch School

Pro Kids | The First Tee of San Diego

Soccer Kids America

YMCA of San Diego County

Afterschool Program Partners

Los Angeles

A Place Called Home

AFFIRMATIVE ATHLETICS

After School All Stars: Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Club of Venice

Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica

Boys and Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor

Brotherhood Crusade

City of Huntington Park Department of Parks

East Los Angeles Rising Youth Club

Equitas Academy

Girls on the Run of Los Angeles

Girls Play Los Angeles

ICES Education

IMPACTO

L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Programs

Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine

Los Angeles Rec and Parks

Major League Baseball Youth Academy

Norwalk La Mirada Unified

P.F. Bresee Foundation

Sloane Stephens Foundation

Street Soccer USA: Los Angeles

Team Prime Time

Variety Boys & Girls Club

Watts Rams

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

Afterschool Program Partners

ATLANTA

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta: Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club
Afterschool Program Partners

Boston

All Dorchester Sports and Leadership

Boston Centers for Youth & Families

Boston SCORES

Cambridge Community Center

East End House

Oak Square YMCA

Sole Train: Boston Runs Together