As part of its national collaboration, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA (Laureus USA), a charitable organization that supports projects in the U.S. to improve the lives of youth through the power of sports, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), the company and its dealers, today announces the launch of their Los Angeles initiative that will train and place 40 Coach Across America coaches in 10 sports-based youth development projects that will mentor approximately 5,000 city children throughout the city of Los Angeles.

 

The launch is part of a nationwide program that, with a $1.3 million national commitment from MBUSA to Laureus USA, focuses on training and placing 250 coaches through Coach Across America in sports-based youth development projects in underserved neighborhoods in five U.S. cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans.

 

This initiative will give youth more opportunities to engage in physicial activities, with the help of coaches to keep underserved children away from troubles such as youth violence, drugs and childhood obesity.

 

Coaches play a crucial role in developing character in today’s youth as well as keeping students engaged in constructive physical activities instead of turning to the streets. A recent GAO report confirmed that despite the important role of coaches, quality coaches are in short supply.1 Proper coaching increases the chance of better grades, better behavior, healthier lives and longer life due to fitness activity. Therefore, Laureus USA has selected Coach Across America as its delivery partner.

 

This afternoon at 1:30 p.m. PST, the city-wide initiative kicks off with dealer partners and employees from MBUSA, along with Laureus World Sports Academy members Dr. Edwin Moses, a two-time Olympic champion and chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Nadia Comaneci, a five-time Olympic champion, and Tony Hawk, considered one of the most successful and influential pioneers of modern day skateboarding, as well as elected officials, guests and staff, visiting Los Angeles’ Lafayette Park and its Multipurpose Community Center for a launch event. Children from Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) and coaches representing Coach Across America will participate in a sports festival full of skateboarding, basketball, soccer and dance. HOLA is unique in the quality of instruction and individualized attention it provides to thousands of youth in the community it serves. Through its four-building campus, HOLA provides free exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics.

 

“Mercedes-Benz USA and our dealer partners have a long tradition of supporting and giving back to our communities. When you combine that with MBUSA’s extensive involvement in high-profile sports events, this is an undertaking that really makes sense for us and provides a real benefit to youth across the country,” said Steve Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

 

“We believe in the transformational power of sport as a tool for social good. Today’s coaches go beyond the traditional sense of the term ‘coach,’” said Dr. Moses. “They are mentors, community organizers and mediators. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development, especially as youth violence and obesity escalate and school-based programs continue to be decimated by budget cuts. Initiatives like this are essential in America to fill the gap.”

 

Today’s launch comes just days after Los Angeles’ after-school programs were on the chopping block, potentially affecting up to 50,000 youth. Parents, children and community members have been opposing $7.5 million in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) cuts to after-school programs, sending a strong signal about their importance. On June 28, the LAUSD approved a $6.3 billion budget for 2012-13 and spared the after-school programs at the eleventh hour. Nevertheless, public-private partnerships like the Laureus USA and Mercedes-Benz USA initiative remain key to sustaining after-school opportunities and helping bridge the gap.

 

“The positive influence coaches can have on today’s underserved youth is undeniable,” said James Kallusky, director of Coach Across America. “The generous support from both Mercedes-Benz USA and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA will allow Coach Across America to both broaden and deepen its impact by providing new coaches in Los Angeles.”

 

“We are thrilled to partner with Coach Across America to meaningfully increase the number of at-risk youth we can coach and mentor each year,” added HOLA Executive Director Tony Brown. “HOLA and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks have together recaptured the Lafayette Park neighborhood, providing free athletics programs that keep kids in our community safe and off of the streets. This newest public/private partnership will give many more kids a chance to have a bright future.”

 

Additionally, this initiative will provide employment opportunities, relevant experience and scholarships in the sport for development sector for young adults inthis tough economy. Many of the coaches recruited by Coach Across America will be college graduates from the local community. The projects where they will be placed include: HOLA, A World Fit for Kids!, After-School All-Stars L.A., America SCORES L.A., Brotherhood Crusade, Kids in Sports, Woodcraft Rangers, PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit International, Play Rugby USA and Street Soccer.