By Paul Ohanian
Imagine, if you will, a park setting in a major metropolitan city.
Gathered together are more than 100 youth participants from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds with limited or no previous exposure to lacrosse. Volunteering to help these youngsters learn fundamentals during a two-hour free clinic are top-level players who also come from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Laughter, giggles and excitement fill the air throughout the clinic. The session ends with high-fives, hugs and t-shirt giveaways as participating kids realize there’s still a lot of fun to be had playing a game “even if I don’t look like everybody else.”
That was the scene recently in Denver, and it’s also a scenario that’s part of US Lacrosse’s vision for the game throughout the country.
“It’s always great to have an opportunity to bring diverse communities together and give them an opportunity to enjoy the sport and learn from passionate players and coaches,” said Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager for diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse.
To further foster these types of opportunities, US Lacrosse is providing resources to local groups and organizations that would like to host similar events or projects that promote lacrosse participation and education. Five different grant categories, with slightly differing goals and qualifications, are available through the Diversity and Inclusion National Grant Program. An education advancement scholarship is also offered for youth and high school players to help offset the cost of private or charter school.
Access the online grant application here. Applications are due to US Lacrosse by September 15.
“We’re excited to offer these grant opportunities to assist qualifying organizations across the country in making a greater impact for diversity in our sport,” Preston-Laurent said. “Connecting people that are traditionally outside the lacrosse community is a primary focus for our diversity and inclusion efforts.”
The National Diversity and Inclusion Grant Program offers grants in the following categories: Girls’ Initiative, Urban Outreach, Community Impact, Event Support and Disability Access. Learn more about the grants, as well as the education advancement scholarship, below.