From Barriers to Belief: One Year Out

Dear friends,

This month, on the one-year anniversary of our Barriers To Belief initiative, I am excited to once more take you on a journey as we share the progress and growth of this national effort, introduce some of our expansion partners, and share our ambitions for the year to come.

For some of you who may be hearing about ‘Barriers To Belief’ for the first time, I’d like to take a step back to share the passion behind the work and our origin story that gave way to its launch.

Our Belief

We believe that access to youth sports is a right that all kids hold, but oftentimes community members don’t have access to the space or the platform to convene together to address the barriers that prevent full participation locally.

To tackle this at the grassroots level we launched the Sports Equity and Access Coalition in Oakland, CA to identify and address the systemic barriers preventing equitable youth sports participation in Black and Brown communities. Collectively, we aim to provide kids greater access to sports and the benefits that come from a caring coach.

From Barriers To Belief

One year ago, we took our first major step in evolving the initiative into a multi-regional effort by launching our first expansion to Southeast San Diego, coupled with a four-week journey across the country to learn from community leaders in Baltimore and Philadelphia to discuss the specific barriers that stand in the way of access to a positive youth sports experience in their communities.

To bring this experience to life as an archived account of our four-week journey, these sessions were filmed and shared in real-time over the course of the month of February in celebration of Black History Month. We aimed to tell the story of what progress can be achieved when we build an alliance of like-minded leaders in under-resourced communities in order to replace the barriers of doubt that success can be achieved with the belief that when community leaders come together we can achieve equitable access to a positive youth sports experience for all kids.

One Year Out

It is my pleasure to continue our journey as we explore the stories and perspectives of some of the extraordinary individuals on the front lines who have been responsible for the deep impact and rapid growth of this effort this past year.

We’ll also check in with Jeff Harper Harris, 32-year veteran coach, youth leader, and founder of the San Diego Cougars Basketball Club and Coaches for Racial Equality to revisit the work begun last year in San Diego and report on the successes, impact, and challenges youth leaders continue to face in his community.

Starting off this month we will turn our focus to Buffalo, New York. Having learned about our initiative, the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo invited us to help them create a Sports Equity Task Force in their community. This month we will be highlighting the amazing work of Nekia Kemp, a founding member of the Buffalo Sports Equity and Access Coalition. Nekia is the Executive Director of the Police Athletic League in Buffalo NY, whose mission it is to improve the immediate and future quality of life for youth through educational, recreational, and prevention programming.

Looking forward PCA will launch a series of Sports Equity Audits this year to provide a Landscape Analysis of the sports equity gaps that youth are experiencing in various regions across the country. This will enable us and our local stakeholders to better understand how to address these gaps in a systematic way, while also helping PCA determine the best way to deploy our resources in low-income communities. As we began to explore conducting a Sports Equity Audit in Minneapolis MN, we had the opportunity to meet Brett Buckner, Executive Director of Seeds to Harvest, an organization that safeguards the conditions for all youth to achieve success in life. Brett is leading transformational equity work in Minneapolis, and we look forward to bringing you his story. PCA will also be partnering with Dr. Joseph Cooper, Professor at UMASS who will also­ be supporting our efforts to conduct a Sports Equity Audit and Landscape Analysis in Boston later this year. We are excited to share his journey with our Alliance.

It is my hope that our experience together this month will leave you with a greater understanding of where we’ve been, where we are, and the future trajectory of our efforts to provide all kids equitable access to the benefits of a positive youth sports experience. This is an open invitation to follow this work as it progresses throughout the year.



Robert Marcus
Chief Community Impact Officer
Positive Coaching Alliance