Dale Royal, a community developer with 30 years’ experience bringing economic development, affordable housing and transportation opportunities to underserved neighborhoods, will be the inaugural executive director of LISC’s newest office in Atlanta, GA. LISC has already invested $18 million in Atlanta for workforce and youth development projects, and our SBA lending affiliate, immito, has just closed its first transformative loan in the city. Royal’s arrival will take that commitment to another level, leveraging his expertise in connecting communities with the capital to help them flourish.
Since 2015, the Home Court Program, a collaboration between ESPN and LISC, has improved the quality, safety, and accessibility of local basketball courts in low- to moderate-income areas. Now in its fourth year, the program is expanding funding to groups in Phoenix, D.C., Indianapolis, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Jacksonville, FL. As Beverly Smith, senior director of LISC’s sports and rec program, noted, “We’ve had great success identifying courts that, with a little financial and technical help, can be transformed into safe, inviting places where young people can play and enjoy the game of basketball.”
Alongside NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young, LISC has invested in a cutting-edge arena where Atlanta youth can face off for competitive eSports. Part of the Johnson STEM Activity Center, the venue offers a level playing field for young people from underinvested communities, where they'll develop strategic thinking, teamwork, coding and video design skills that can help prepare them for 21st-century careers in the tech world.
In just two years, the RVA League for Safer Streets, a basketball-plus-education program for young men from Richmond communities with high crime rates, has had an extraordinary peace-making impact in the lives of participants—and on the city at large. Founded by two formerly incarcerated Richmonders who bring to the table experience and insight wrought by decades behind bars, the League is dedicated to keeping people out of prison, and helping those who are returning to become successful members of their communities. The article that follows contains audio quotes from the League's founders about pivotal experiences in their lives in and outside of prison.
ESPN, Under Armour and LISC have announced that four new communities are eligible for grants through the Replay initiative to transform vacant lots into community recreation hubs. The program, which is in its second year, will award a total of $430,000 to help neighborhood groups in Atlanta, Detroit, Oakland, and Toledo ensure that sports and recreation are accessible to all residents. As LISC’s senior program director for Sports & Recreation, Beverly Smith, stated, “Our on-the-ground experience in local communities coupled with the resources and expertise of ESPN and Under Armour has been a highly successful formula for creating useful recreational spaces.”