What is the Problem?
Only 1 out of 3 children from low-income households participate on a team. Due to the “pay-to-play” sport culture, children from low-income families are often sidelined from the opportunity to participate on a sport team. A lack of resources in schools and community centers prevent young people in low-SES neighborhoods from playing with one another in a non-competitive, recreational environment.
In the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago, as little as 1 in 9 young people had access to sport programming in 2018. Of those who had the chance to participate, 88% were boys and 82% were playing basketball.
We know that young people want to be part of a team and play with their peers, through all types of activities and programs. These low participation counts are not for lack of interest but rather a lack of opportunity and resources.
Why is it a Problem?
Every young person deserves a safe and nurturing environment to play -- whether through formal programming or informal play. This kind of environment allows a young person to grow and develop their capacity for healthy relationships with their peers and adults, a strong belief in oneself and the encouragement to overcome and address hardship. Without a safe, healthful after school activity, children are also more vulnerable to involvement in gangs and street violence.
Sports and recreational programming provide space for a young person to develop aspects of themselves that are rarely encountered in a purely academic setting. Though typically referred to as extra-curriculars, A Team For Every Child believes sport and recreational programming is so essential that we view them as co-curricular to the lessons learned in the classroom.
When 85% of young people in a neighborhood lack the access to programming capable of providing lifelong mentorship, relationship-building, and accountability for one’s actions, we all lose.
Through community interviews and needs assessments, it became clear that communities want to come together to work towards providing all young people with the benefits of these co-curriculars. At A Team for Every Child, we are creating collaborative neighborhood athletic and recreation associations that provide every child the opportunity to play and be a part of a team experience that develops them socially, emotionally, morally and physically helping them to become productive citizens.
In North Lawndale, we facilitated the organizational development of the North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association (NLARA). Initially a group of committed community leaders, the NLARA has developed into a family of 15 non-profit organizations working to serve over 2,000 young people and their families. As an association, the NLARA works collaboratively to increase opportunities for young people to play. In just 3 years since its inception in 2017, the NLARA has experienced exciting growth.
Our 3 Pillars are the foundation for A Team for Every Child's approach to creating positive youth sports opportunities for children across America. Click the links below to read more about each area of our work.
NLARA By the Numbers
The NLARA has increased total participation by over 400% between 2018 and 2020 . Within the sports programming supported by the NLARA, there has been major improvements in the diversity of opportunities provided to young people.
We saw a 335% growth in girl’s participation between 2019 and 2020 . We accomplished this through intentional partnership with girl-focused programming and encouraging programming partners to create an inviting culture for girls to join in.
For more detail on our work, see the following recent reports:
Total participation in NLARA programming from 2018-2020, including both sports programs and community events.
Additionally, we welcomed multi-sport programming, rugby, and soccer into our programming! This means we doubled the variety of sports offered to young people in the neighborhood over 2 years.
By working collaboratively and establishing one shared goal across a community of programmers, the NLARA is creating opportunities for young people who were previously unable to participate. With project management from A Team for Every Child, the NLARA continues to measure and assess their collective impact through analyzing registration data and program evaluations.
A Team For Every Child expedites positive change within communities by driving data-informed decision-making and guiding the development of a collective culture focused on positive youth development through play.
 Needs Assessment 2017
 Survey data from 2019 and 2020
 Needs Assessment 2017 and Survey Data 2018-2020
 NLARA Participation Data 2018-2020