From Barriers To Belief: This Month’s Journey

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

As a community advocate, I have dedicated much of my adult life to providing equity and access for youth in under-resourced communities. As a person of color, it is a particular passion of mine to do the work of breaking down systematic barriers impacting our Black and Brown youth.

Something I am most proud of has been the opportunity to co-launch the Racial Equity and Access in Youth Sports Task Force here in Oakland. With the help of some of my favorite people like Shawn Granberry and Jumoke Hinton, we have created this Task Force to build community stakeholder ownership of a Sports Equity Agenda that will outline a roadmap and strategies to a more equitable youth sports ecosystem in our community.

Launched on the first day of Black History Month, From Barriers To Belief was a four weeklong journey as we took our first major step in expanding our Racial Equity and Access in Youth Sports Task Force from a singular community initiative in Oakland, to a national effort in low-income communities of color across the country.

We began with the exciting news that we would be launching the first extension of the Task Force in San Diego. I had the chance to travel to that community and meet with key stakeholders Jeff Harper Harris, Armon Harvey, Dalesean Lynch, and Tracy McNair, to discuss the challenges in their neighborhoods and the ambitions they have for the Task Force.

Having put a call out to communities of color all over the country, we were excited to then connect with Rashida Ford, Executive Director of POP Inc. who was interested in extending this dialogue as it pertains to her home city of Baltimore. Venturing out to the East Coast to meet with her, we set about discussing some of the equity issues facing Baltimore.

We also took the opportunity to head to Philly to meet with the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative (PYSC), and Mike Barsotti, Director of External Relations, plus Collaborative Members Valencia ‘Coach V’ Peterson, Founder & CEO of ODAAP and Eric Worley, Co-founder and Program Director of Philadelphia Youth Basketball. As an organization that has successfully built a collaborative of 60+ member organizations that serve over 65,000, there is a great deal our Task Force can learn from PYSC’s storied history of bringing community leaders and organizations together to solve problems.

As we closed out the month, many leaders I met on this month’s journey joined together in a town hall to unpack the various insights and perspectives in a first-ever collaboration and discussion. While many of the experiences are unique to each city, we learned that the very same challenges in our community here in Oakland are happening in Southeast San Diego, Baltimore City, Philadelphia, and all over the country.

With this month’s initiative, we were able to tell our story and inspire our fellow community leaders across the country to continue to work to remove the barrier of doubt that when local community leaders come together, we can achieve equity for our kids.

Today may be the end of Black History Month, but for our Task Force, we are just getting started.

To be continued….

Rob Marcus

Director of Government and Community Engagement

For a full recap of the past month’s initiative, click here, or visit our blog, here

Positive Coaching Alliance and Coaching Corps are joining forces to become a powerhouse organization dedicated to optimizing the positive impact of youth coaches on kids. Because when every child has access to a game-changing coach trained in youth development, s/he is able to gain life skills through sport, build healthy habits, and become beacons for positive change in their communities.

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