News & Updates
Discover the latest news from the Play Equity Fund.
We are determined to be constructive partners to affect change with all that we collaborate with from each sector, including educators, professional sports organizations, fellow nonprofits and citizens. The challenges of Play Equity demand active engagement from us all.
The Play Equity Fund is committed to supporting programs and actions to ensure all kids have equal access to sport and structured play, by raising awareness of inequities, supporting the sports-based youth development ecosystem for greater impact, and developing partnerships to advocate for funding and sustainable solutions to ensure kids of color have access and opportunity to pathways for lifelong wellbeing. Follow @PlayEquityFund on Twitter and Instagram.
As we look back on 2020, it has been a year of challenges and reflection. The year kicked off with such promise as it ushered in a new decade. Over the 12 months of 2020 our lives were upended by a global pandemic, and while we have lost family, friends, and colleagues, we have also learned and emerged stronger than we were previously. In 2020, at the Play Equity Fund we worked to adapt and support and our partners effectively. We also found new partners and allies to respond to the pandemic, to join the Play Equity Movement and work toward racial justice. We have learned that while we may not know what is coming, there is strength in working collectively and we can always overcome challenges when we partner together.
UCLA women’s soccer has long been an advocate for social justice – from players kneeling for the national anthem in 2017 to leading the Women’s March Los Angeles in 2019. This culture of activism has blossomed under coach Amanda Cromwell, who has recently taken a step of her own to advance the state of professional women’s soccer in the U.S. by becoming a part-owner of a new National Women’s Soccer League team. Cromwell, volunteer goalkeeping coach Saskia Webber and former UCLA forward Lauren Holiday were three of the 15 former U.S. Women’s National Team players to invest in WFC LA/Angel City FC. The club also publicized its support of the Play Equity Fund, which offers grants to sports programs in underserved communities to provide better playing environments to children throughout Southern California.
Sean McVay is a big proponent of community work, often talking about the good his players do in the community. That’s been on full display this offseason with pandemic relief causes and the fight for social justice, and McVay is doing his part in the community, too. The Rams announced Friday that McVay donated $25,000 to the Play Equity Fund, which supports kids in under-sourced communities who do not have access to equipment for recreational activities. McVay’s donation was used to buy footballs, jump ropes and other outdoor equipment for students.
The Arizona Daily Star
With many parents hesitant to let their kids return to sports until a coronavirus vaccine is available, some experts fear that problems that existed before the pandemic, like lack of access and diversity, could be exacerbated when youth sports make a full comeback. And while that’s certainly daunting, the same experts also agree that the three-plus months without live sports have allowed team leaders the opportunity to slow down and reevaluate, and could provide the opportunity for a return to focus on the life skills and values that youth sports are meant to provide. “In previous times that’s happened, it’s things they think are non-essential that get cut. Like sports,” said Renata Simril, executive director of the LA84 Foundation, a Los Angeles-based group that was founded on the legacy of 1984 Olympic games and aims to get kids in underserved, under-resourced communities the opportunity to experience the transformational power of sports. LA84 founded the national movement Play Equity and works with nonprofits across Southern California to help train coaches and close the play equity gap to ensure that all kids have access to sports.
Los Angeles will have a professional women’s soccer team for the first time in a decade after a majority woman-founded group led by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman announced the city would be home to the newest franchise to join the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2022. The club immediately committed to confront the social issues impacting the Los Angeles community including those that have negatively impacted women’s sport. In a press release, Portman said, “Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group. I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base”. A consortium led by President Julie Uhrman includes stellar names from Hollywood such as Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria and fourteen former United States Women’s National Team players; Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, Abby Wambach and Saskia Webber as well as 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams. The club will become a formal supporter of their Play Equity Fund. CEO of the LA84 Foundation, Renata Simril explained “the Play Equity Fund is committed to driving access to sports for under-served communities, including communities of color, girls, the physically challenged and developmentally disabled. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with this incredible group of women upon the launch of their new undertaking. They are dedicated to making a positive impact for those who need it most”. Uhrman said “The Play Equity Fund is committed to leveling the playing field to help ensure that all kids across Los Angeles have access and the opportunity to experience the transformational power of sport”.
The city of Los Angeles is getting its own National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team and it has connections to the UCLA women’s soccer team. The investors of Angel City also announced that it is partnering with LA84 Foundation as formal supporters of the Play Equity Fund which is “committed to leveling the playing field to help ensure that all kids across Los Angeles have access and the opportunity to experience the transformational power of sport.”
NWSL announces new Los Angeles team co-owned by Natalie Portman, Serena Williams, 14 former USWNT players
After a decade without a team, California is welcoming back women’s professional soccer. The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Tuesday that Los Angeles has been granted expansion rights, giving the NWSL its first California team. The Angel City ownership group also announced on Tuesday that they’ve partnered with the LA84 Foundation to support their Play Equity Fund.
New York Times
Kara Nortman’s path to owning a professional women’s soccer team began in Vancouver, British Columbia, when she went looking for a women’s soccer jersey during the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Nortman found some, eventually, without players’ names on the backs. On Tuesday, their dream became a reality when the N.W.S.L. announced that it would expand to Los Angeles in 2022, with a team bankrolled by an ownership group that includes not only Nortman and Portman, but also the tennis star Serena Williams and her husband, the tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian; the media consultant Julie Uhrman; and more than a dozen former members of the U.S. women’s team. Plans for a coaching staff and players of the new Los Angeles team, which for now is called Angel City, will become more concrete in 2021, league officials said. But the work for change off the field will start sooner, through a partnership with the LA84 Foundation’s Play Equity Fund, which promotes access to sport for young athletes, particularly those of color.
New York Daily News
Actress Natalie Portman and venture capitalist Kara Nortman lead a group that will bring an expansion National Women’s Soccer League team to the Los Angeles area in 2022. The team, tentatively named Angel City, will bring the league to 11 teams. Louisville FC will join the nine current NWSL clubs next season. There were hints that the group was coming together last year when Portman, Gardner, Longoria and other celebrities went to a national team exhibition game at LAFC’s stadium before the World Cup. Angel City also announced its formal support of the foundation’s Play Equity Fund, aimed at helping kids in minority and underserved communities.
The Sports Examiner
Legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games expands with “Play Equity” program with 11 L.A.-area pro sports teams
Earthquakes are a known feature of the Los Angeles area. There is fear and worry when the ground shakes even a little between Santa Monica and Indio, a perhaps a precursor to The Big One. There was such a quake last week, but it drew far too little notice. The 11 major professional sports teams in the Los Angeles area joined together in “The A11iance: Los Angeles,” a five-year joint commitment to support “the Play Equity Fund’s social justice movement in communities across greater Los Angeles, and in Orange County amplifying the work of Accelerate Change Together (ACT) Anaheim.” This includes Major League Baseball’s Angels and Dodgers, Major League Soccer’s Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club, the NBA’s Clippers and Lakers, NFL’s Chargers and Rams, the NHL’s Ducks and Kings and the WNBA’s Sparks. This is yet another legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games. Huh? The Play Equity Fund is a project of the LA84 Foundation – the living legacy of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee – under the leadership of Chair Debra Duncan, a critical member of the LAOOC executive team that staged in the 1984 Games, and President and Chief Executive Renata Simril.
When Upfront Ventures partner Kara Nortman first met Natalie Portman a few years ago to talk about ways their non-profit organizations All Raise and Time’s Up could collaborate, she never realized they’d eventually be partners on a sports franchise. Now the two women are co-founders of Angel City, leading a gaggle of venture capital, sports, and celebrity investors, alongside Angel City co-founder and President Julie Uhrman, in bringing a National Women’s Soccer League team to Los Angeles by the Spring of 2022. Backing the team is Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and a slew of investors including his wife, tennis superstar Serena Williams (and their daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.); the actors Uzo Aduba, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, and Lily Singh and former US Women’s National Team players including Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Abby Wambach, Lauren Cheney Holiday; social media stuntman Casey Neistat, and more. While it might seem strange to launch a new sports league with an epidemic still raging in the United States, Nortman said that the decision to invest and bring the team to Los Angeles was simple. “We’re venture capitalists. We’re optimists,” Nortman said. For each of the founders, activism and community engagement is as important as the business of setting up a new sports business in Los Angeles. The group has partnered with the LA84 Foundation, which brings sports to underserved communities. “In 2014, we established the Play Equity Fund, the only nonprofit focused on Play Equity as a social justice issue,” said Renata Simril.
Los Angeles Times
An ordinary moment inspired Renata Simril to come up with an extraordinary idea to get kids active and give them something familiar in a shuttered and uncertain world. Because of the coronavirus-driven Safer at Home order issued by Los Angeles County, Simril was working from home one day recently when she saw her 12-year-old son Sebastian take a break from studying and go to the garage in search of something to do for “recess.” Simril joined him. From that epiphany came a plan to distribute gear that kids can use in small areas by themselves or at proper social distance from others. They’re not just toys. For some kids, they’re lifelines. “Certainly you can’t go to the park, you’re not in school and many of the families we serve are choosing between food and rent. Play equipment is at the tail end of something that they’re going to prioritize,” Simril said. Calling on friends and corporations, she collected 600 soccer balls and basketballs, plus jump ropes, disc golf and badminton sets. The foundation partnered with the L.A. Unified School District to distribute the equipment the past two weeks at schools that are serving as Grab and Go meal centers while classes are suspended. The first distribution sites were Garfield, Dorsey, Fremont and San Fernando high schools. Others will follow in the coming weeks. “Those are some of the highest-need areas by determinant of the number of meals they serve on a weekly basis,” said Simril, who grew up in Carson. “To actually see the families lined up, in person and in the cars and wrapped around the building, really showed the impact of not just the COVID-19 crisis but unearthed a lot of broken systems, one of which is food insecurity.
FOX11 Los Angeles
Play equipment will begin being distributed Monday at Los Angeles Unified School District Grab & Go Food Centers as part of a program to encourage healthy activities for children confined to their homes due to restrictions prompted by the coronavirus outbreak. Free balls, jump ropes and other gear children can use to play at home will be distributed at Garfield and San Fernando high schools Monday. Distributions will continue until the end of the school year at LAUSD Grab & Go distribution centers in the highest need areas, according to Renata Simril, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund.
NBC Los Angeles
Play equipment will begin being distributed Monday at Los Angeles Unified School District Grab & Go Food Centers as part of a program to encourage healthy activities for children at home due to restrictions prompted by the coronavirus outbreak. Free balls, jump ropes and other gear children can use to play at home will be distributed at Garfield and San Fernando high schools Monday. Distributions will continue until the end of the school year at LAUSD Grab & Go distribution centers in the highest need areas, according to Renata Simril, president & CEO of the LA84 Foundation and the Play Equity Fund. The #StayActiveStayStrong program also includes instructional videos featuring Olympic and professional athletes guiding and encouraging all students and families.
KVEA Telemundo 52
El Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) distribuirá equipos de juego para los niños en los Centros de Alimentos “Grab & Go” del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles como parte de un programa para fomentar actividades saludables. Los niños recibirán pelotas gratis, cuerdas para saltar y otros equipos que los niños pueden usar para jugar en casa en las preparatorias Garfield y San Fernando el lunes. Las distribuciones continuarán hasta el final del año escolar en los centros de distribución de LAUSD Grab & Go en las áreas de mayor necesidad, según Renata Simril, presidenta y directora ejecutiva de LA84 Foundation y Play Equity Fund. Play Equity Fund es una organización benéfica pública establecida en 2014 para apoyar y expandir el trabajo y el impacto de la Fundación LA84. Se enfoca específicamente en llevar el poder transformador del deporte y el juego estructurado a todos los niños, independientemente de su código postal y su estado socioeconómico.