Coaching Corps’ Response to COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

Coaching Corps’ Response to COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Why is Coaching Corps sending volunteers out during shelter-in-place orders? 

A: Coaching Corps is an organization that normally recruits and trains volunteers to be sports mentors to kids living in low-income communities. With schools and afterschool programs closed literally overnight, many low-income families do not know where their children’s next meal will come from. Many parents and caretakers are struggling to hold down jobs without sick leave or work-from-home options, and have to make the difficult decision to leave their children at home alone or risk losing income. 

Coaching Corps’ community partners, including food banks and school districts, have asked for immediate and ongoing help to meet the urgent needs of kids and families living in the neighborhoods they serve.  

Food banks already work at capacity during normal times. Now with COVID-19, they are completely overwhelmed. They expect to double, even triple their output in the coming weeks. They are estimating a 40% or more drop in the volunteer workforce, which means getting meals to those who need them is dire. 

Coaching Corps has stepped in to help as an organization uniquely qualified to fill this need – its infrastructure and staff have been built to activate large numbers of volunteers as coaches. Coaching Corps is in a position to use its technology and skillset to ensure families do not meet further hardships by getting volunteers, and basic necessities, to the sites working on the frontlines. 


Q: What safety precautions are Coaching Corps instituting to ensure no one gets COVID-19? 

A: Coaching Corps supports the efforts to contain COVID-19. At the same time, Coaching Corps is concerned about the challenges shelter-in-place restrictions pose on already susceptible low-income communities. Supplying food to lowincome families is considered an essential need, and volunteers are urgently needed to meet the need now and for the long haul.  

Coaching Corps is taking necessary safety precautionsThose interested in volunteering are referred to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization guidelines to determine if they are high-risk, and if not, to decide for themselves if they are comfortable volunteering. It is very important that volunteers self-select and make decisions about their own safety.  

Coaching Corps has confirmed with partners that they are following the CDC-recommended safety protocols of social distancing, wearing protective gear and sanitizing workspaces. Coaching Corps follows up with volunteers about their experiences and asks questions about site safety protocols. If a site is not following safety practices, our staff reaches out to the site and asks them to fix the issue, or they will be removed from our listings until protocols are followed. 

For those not comfortable volunteering, people who want to help can donate to supply basic necessities such as diapers, formula and hygiene products which families desperately need to stay healthy and safe

Q: What makes Coaching Corps qualified to recruit volunteers? 

A: Coaching Corps is an organization that normally recruits and trains volunteers to be sports mentors to kids living in low-income communities. Its community partners, including food banks and school districts, have asked for immediate and ongoing help to meet the urgent needs of kids and families living in the neighborhoods they serve.  

Coaching Corps has stepped in to help as an organization uniquely qualified to fill this need – the infrastructure and staff have been built to activate large numbers of volunteers as coaches. Coaching Corps is in a position to use its technology and skillset to ensure families do not meet further hardships and to get volunteers, and basic necessities, to the sites working on the frontlines. 


Q: Who is Coaching Corps asking to volunteer?  

A: Coaching Corps is an organization that normally recruits and trains volunteers to be sports mentors to kids living in low-income communities. Since the organization’s beginning 18 years ago, it has built a base of 18,000 volunteer coaches and supporters who represent many ages and backgroundsThe majority of our coaches are college students who are looking for ways to do good in their communities.  

There are many people who want to help during COVID-19 who might not know how. Coaching Corps is answering that call by connecting them with volunteer opportunities, and/or the ability to make donations for basic supplies, such as diapers and hygiene products, which families desperately need 


Q: What geographic areas is Coaching Corps focusing on to meet needs of children and families? 

A: Coaching Corps is national organization that serves children living in low-income communities. Right now, the organization is focusing its COVID-19 response efforts mainly in California where it is based and where the greatest numbers of children and families who need critical support are located. Coaching Corps is also currently working with partners in Boston and Baltimore.  


Q: How many people have responded to Coaching Corps’ outreach, and what has been the impact? 

A: Beginning March 13, Coaching Corps began receiving requests from its community partners, including school districts and food banks, for immediate support to meet the needs of the children and families living in the communities where they workNearly 400 people have responded so far, and the number continues to grow as outreach continues. 

The fast responses of community partners such as Oakland Unified School District, Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, Los Angeles Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District, California’s second largest district, are working quickly to help keep hundreds of thousands of children safe and fed. 

The need on the ground is extreme. In Oakland alone where Coaching Corps is headquartered, roughly 50,000 kids are now vulnerable as they rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs to avoid going hungry. Oakland currently has 12 sites delivering meals. Since day one of service, the number of meals provided has quadrupled, with that number expected to balloon. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, nearly 700,000 students, almost 80% who are from families living in povertywere served 374,052 meals in one day across 64 sites, helping more people than any food bank in the country.  


Q: What type of services are volunteers providing? 

A: At this time, logistical support for school districts, regional food banks, and local food pantries is extremely urgentand requires volunteers.  

Volunteers set up parking lots; break down boxes; accept and sort items; package and distribute food; and coordinate safe practices, such as mopping and wiping down surfaces, that adhere to social distancing guidelines. 


Q: How does Coaching Corps know needs on the ground are being met?  

A: Coaching Corps staff are in daily, sometimes multiple times per day, contact with partners working on the frontlines to communicate the ever-evolving needs of the children and families they are supportingCommunication involves capacity and supply updatessuch as the urgent need for volunteers and basic necessities, such as diapers, formula and hygiene products that Coaching Corps can quickly mobilize its resources to help provide. 


Q: What else is Coaching Corps doing to respond to COVID-19? 

A: Coaching Corps is working closely with afterschool partners to deliver its proprietary training modules online to their staff. While partners are closed during the pandemic, their staff can receive the training virtually that Coaching Corps normally provides in person at each partner location.  

The trainings are designed to create environments for kids where they feel safe, connected and accepted for who they are and where they come from. Trainings prepare afterschool partner staff with traumainformed best practices and skills that empower them to be response and agile in responding to the evolving needs of young people living in the underserved communities where they work. 

By offering these online trainings, staff will save time preparing and be ready to coach when shelter-in-place orders are lifted and kids return to their afterschool programs. 


Q: What will Coaching Corps do as an organization if the shelter-in-place or a more serious official quarantine lasts longer than a few months? 

A: Coaching Corps will accelerate the call for donations to supply basic necessities such as diapers, formula and hygiene products which families desperately need to stay safe and healthy.  

Sites currently accepting volunteers and donations are listed on the Coaching Corps website. If and when a site closes, Coaching Corps will make every effort to update the information on the website. 

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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


Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida

City of Orlando Athletics

Afterschool Program Partners


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


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


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


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


All Dorchester Sports and Leadership

Boston Centers for Youth & Families


Cambridge Community Center

East End House

Oak Square YMCA

Sole Train: Boston Runs Together