Laureus Sport for Good USA Announces $4M in Grants to 41 Sports-Based Youth Development Organizations in Chicago and throughout Illinois

Laureus Sport for Good USA Announces $4M in Grants to 41 Sports-Based Youth Development Organizations in Chicago and throughout Illinois  

Non-profit organizations awarded are using sport as a tool for violence prevention to support young people and communities 

Chicago, Illinois (November 10, 2022) – Today, Laureus USA awarded grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 to 41 organizations throughout Illinois that intentionally use sport as a vehicle for youth development and violence prevention. Each of the organizations runs programming in R3 Zones, which have the highest concentration of reported violence and child poverty throughout the state.

Through this program, the first of its kind in Illinois, more than 15,000 kids will receive access to safe, inclusive, and supportive youth sport programs.”These programs will play a vital role in interrupting youth violence and developing crucial life skills for youth, as research shows that playing sports has lasting cognitive and emotional benefits on a child’s life, such as higher levels of academic achievement and decreased rates of anxiety and depression. Additionally, more than 500 coaches will receive training in positive youth development and trauma-informed care.  

This funding, which will cover expenses such as athlete registration and equipment fees, staff salaries and venue renovations, plays a critical role in removing barriers and increasing equity in youth sports. Further,  these grants are shifting the youth sports culture by rewarding organizations that emphasize inclusion, coach training and social-emotional learning – all of which create protective factors in preventing youth violence as defined by the CDC. 

“Community sports organizations have served as interrupters of violence, providers of safety and security, and beacons of unity and inclusion throughout Illinois for decades,” said Ben Schornack, Laureus USA’s Director of Sport for Good Chicago. “This funding recognizes and expands the important role that those organizations play in addressing the complex issues of public safety and violence. We are grateful to our partners and members of Sport for Good Chicago who helped make this government funding a reality through strategic organizing and years of collective action work.” 

Funding Highlights 

Funding through this program will support projects across more than 20 different sports, ranging from basketball and soccer to double-dutch and squash, in 24 counties throughout Illinois. Below is a full list of funded organizations: 

Alternative Schools Network,  America SCORES Chicago,  B.I.G. Baseball Academy, Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council,  Beat the Streets Chicago, Box United, Boxing Out Negativity,  Boys & Girls Club of Rockford, BUILD, Inc, Chicago Lions Youth Rugby, Chicago Run, Chicago Training Center, Chicago Youth Boxing Club,  First Tee of Greater Chicago,  FOUS Youth Development, Generations for Peace,  Girls in the Game,  Girls on the Run Chicago, Girls on the Run Middle IL,  Grand Boulevard Services,  Heart of the City, Kids Enjoy Exercise Now,  KTs Kids, Lost Boyz Inc, MetroSquash, PeacePlayers, Play Like a Champion, Playworks IL,  Project Education Plus, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Refugee Education and Adventure Challenge, The ACE Project, The Bloc, The Center for Healing and Justice through Sport, UCAN, Urban Initiatives, US Tennis Association, US Soccer Foundation, YEMBA, YMCA of Metro Chicago, and  YMCA of West Central IL.


“With school budgets perilously stretched, this grant will be game-changing for the sustainability and growth of the Alternative Schools Network sports programming for students in economically marginalized communities,” said Jack Wuest, Executive Director of Alternative Schools League. “This funding will support basketball, soccer, dance, and bowling programming at 20 schools throughout Chicago – allowing 300 additional students to participate in essential programming. We believe this wraparound programming is crucial to our schools’ abilities to increase attendance, create better engagement in the classroom, and reduce violence in these communities. Additionally, we are thankful for the role Laureus USA is playing as an intermediary helping us navigate this funding. The collaboration and capacity building being offered through this grant program provides us support beyond the money, and helps us engage in the broader conversation of leveraging sport for social change throughout Illinois.”


Legislative Path 

This funding was made possible through Chicago’s Comeback Campaign – a coordinated effort led by Laureus USA and more than 85 local organizations (as part of the Sport for Good Chicago coalition), calling on legislative stakeholders to prioritize sustained funding for sports-based youth development programs as they seek an equitable post-pandemic recovery. These efforts were bolstered through additional support from IMC Charities, Gatorade, and Chicago Cubs Charities. The Legislative appropriation was led by Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and Representative Kam Buckner, as well as other lead-sponsors including Senator Robert Peters and Representatives Aaron Ortiz, Will Guzzardi, and Kelly Cassidy. This funding is flowing through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

“Sport has shown itself as a powerful tool for helping young people develop and grow. Organized physical activity and play can help young people heal from traumatic experiences, build important caring adult & peer relationships, and build skills that are translatable to other parts of their lives,” said Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas. “The Illinois Latino Caucus was proud to support this initiative as part of 25M invested into our communities throughout the State to combat violence and make sure that every child has the resources that they deserve.”

“Sport played a critical role in getting me to where I am today. As a football player, I learned how to take on anything that life could throw at me and built relationships that have lasted to this day”, said Representative Kam Buckner. “The Illinois Black Caucus was proud to support this initiative to make sure that black and brown young people throughout the state can have the same sport experience that I had growing up.”

About Laureus Sport for Good USA 

Laureus USA is a non-profit, grant-making organization that works to improve the lives of youth and unite communities through the power of sport. Since 2012, we have impacted the lives of over one million youth by investing $20 million in sports-based youth development organizations around the country that unleash the power of sport to enhance physical and mental health, improve educational and employment outcomes, and address critical social justice issues. Laureus USA is a member of the global Laureus network, which includes 7 National Laureus Sport for Good Foundations, 1 Global Foundation, the Laureus World Sports Academy (and Ambassadors), and the Laureus World Sports Awards. Learn more about Sport for Good at


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