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Foot Locker, Inc and LISC announce funding for 16 organizations focused on advancing health, wealth, and upward mobility in BIPOC communities

Gaby M. Rojas

Foot Locker, Inc., through the Foot Locker Foundation, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have announced grant funding for nonprofit community organizations that empower youth in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

Known as the Foot Locker Foundation Community Empowerment Program, the $3 million joint effort was announced last year to bridge gaps driven by racial inequity and promote youth empowerment and community wellness—all while supporting community-based organizations led by people of color.

For both LISC and Foot Locker, Inc., this funding is part of larger national efforts focused on economic opportunity and racial equity. The program draws from Foot Locker, Inc.’s $200 million commitment to its Leading Education and Economic Development (LEED) initiative, which is focused on fueling education and economic opportunity within the Black community. It also connects to LISC’s Project 10X strategy to break down systemic barriers and support racial justice.

In this first round of funding of $1.26 million, LISC and Foot Locker, Inc. identified 16 high-impact programs across 12 metro areas. A second round of funding is planned for spring 2022.

“Creating a more equitable future begins with meaningful investments at the community level,” said Richard Johnson, chairman and CEO of Foot Locker, Inc. “For too long, community organizations led by people of color and the youth they serve have been underinvested in and overlooked. Through LEED and the Community Empowerment Program, we are providing local nonprofits the tools and resources they need to expand their impact. These organizations have a deep connection to the communities they serve and understand the issues they face. With this support, these local groups can advance opportunities for youth in their communities and build a stronger future.”

The funded programs range from construction training for young adults to after-school programming for middle school kids to social-emotional counseling for teens. They are inclusive of mentorship, career development, education support, life skills and civic engagement.

The grants also respond to the philanthropic gap facing BIPOC-led organizations. In fact, a 2020 assessment from The Bridgespan Group and Echoing Green found that Black-led nonprofits, like those included among the grantees, had unrestricted net assets that were 76 percent lower than those of White-led groups, making it more difficult to operate their organizations and grow their impact.

“The past few years have been difficult for young people—particularly in Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” noted LISC CEO Lisa Glover. “In establishing this program, Foot Locker, Inc. has recognized the ongoing impact of systemic racism, prioritized the needs of teens and young adults, and committed capital to on-the-ground strategies that directly address the local challenges. We are grateful for their thoughtful engagement in these important issues.”

The 16 organizations funded by the Community Empowerment Program have been awarded grants ranging from $25,000-$100,000 each, depending on the programs being supported. They include:

  • City of Refuge, Atlanta
    • Workforce/career development, sports, mentorship, and STEM programming for youth in the Bankhead community.
  • Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Baltimore
    • Training for youth ages 18-24 in construction and technology skills and STEAM, along with workshops for middle school students in West Baltimore.
  • Spark Chicago, Chicago
    • Mentorship program that matches students with committed mentors for 13 weeks of engagement each spring.
  • AeroStar Avion Institute, Chicago
    • Aviation/aerospace STEM education and training for Chicago Housing Authority youth ages 13-20.
  • Mercy Street, Dallas
    • Sports, mentoring, and leadership programs in West and South Dallas, which were constrained due to COVID-19.
  • Detroit Phoenix Center, Detroit
    • Drop-in program for young adults ages 13-24 at risk of and/or currently experiencing homelessness, offering services such as personal care, job training, and after-school enrichment.
  • Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, Detroit
    • Customer service and sales associate training for youth, with direct exposure to relevant careers and work environments. 
  • Change Happens, Houston
    • Each One of Us mentoring program for boys and young men in the city’s Third Ward to help address day-to-day challenges, build self-confidence, and promote well-being.
  • Step Up, Los Angeles
    • A cohort-based program for teen girls, which encompasses social-emotional skill development, career experiences, and mentorship.
  • Overtown Youth Center, Miami
    • College and career readiness program that provides services ranging from financial literacy to educational support for marginalized youth in Miami-Dade County.
  • Peter Westbrook Foundation, New York
    • Saturday Fencing Program and Academic Enrichment Program, which provide youth with health and wellness opportunities, mentoring, and academic support with a pathway to quality jobs.
  • Figure Skating in Harlem, New York
    • Coaching, tutoring/STEAM, fitness, and ice time for more than 200 girls in the I Can Excel (ICE) and Summer Dreams Programs.
  • Health & Human Resource Education Center, Oakland
    • Enhancement of Downtown TAY Program, through which youth participate in peer support groups, mentoring sessions with coaches and job readiness workshops.
  • People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation, Philadelphia
    • Hiring of youth as Community Connectors to assist with emergency food distribution and information dissemination throughout the federally designated West Philadelphia Promise Zone.
  • City of Dreams, San Francisco
    • After-school and Saturday programming in San Francisco’s Bayview District, including mentoring, field trips, access to a health & wellness advocate, and gardening education/skills.
  • LYRIC, San Francisco
    • Workforce program to provide low-income, LGBTQ+ youth of color with culturally competent, identity-affirming services that promote education and workforce development.

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