PCA September Partner of the Month: Oakland Unified School District

PCA September Partner of the Month: Oakland Unified School District

Partnership Boosts Both Interest and Participation in Sports for Students

Positive Coaching Alliance is proud to honor Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) as our partner of the month. OUSD has been a key member of our Oakland Sports Equity Coalition whose goal is to eliminate the Sports Equity Gaps disproportionately impacting youth, coaches, and community members in Oakland. 

Bridging the Sports Equity Gap: The Oakland Success Story

Sports, beyond their thrill and competition, are powerful vehicles of social transformation. They have the unique ability to transcend barriers, unite communities, and lay the foundation for lifelong wellness and personal growth. Yet, for many children, especially those in low-income areas, access to sports is not a given. This year, thanks to the leadership of the Oakland Unified School District, efforts to close the sports equity gap witnessed a major leap forward. 

The Challenge at Hand

When the Oakland Sports Equity Coalition first began to convene, one of the most glaring disparities the group identified was the lack of affordable entry points into youth sports for elementary-aged children in Oakland’s economically challenged areas. The lack of such opportunities doesn’t just deny children a chance to play but can potentially keep them from experiencing the myriad benefits that sports participation offers — from physical fitness to teamwork, leadership, and more.

The Birth of the Solution: OUSD’s Elementary School Sports Program

Recognizing the magnitude of the challenge and the need for a unified effort, the Coalition embarked on a journey to explore collective solutions during their regular monthly meetings. Out of this collaborative spirit emerged a groundbreaking initiative: the Oakland Unified School District spearheading an ambitious project to establish a new Elementary School Sports Program, with a goal of ensuring accessibility to youth sports for all, regardless of financial constraints. 

A Transformative Program

Backed by significant investment and trust from the Oakland Unified School District, this innovative program was launched. It wasn’t just about creating another sports league, but rather a holistic program that would ensure every child, regardless of their economic background, got an equal shot at experiencing the joys and lessons of sports. The district also successfully leveraged their resources to bring in local youth sports organizations, including members of the Sports Equity Coalition, to serve as providers for the program.

The district’s backing went beyond just funds. They provided the infrastructural and moral support necessary to bring this dream to reality. And to ensure that the approach was yielding the desired results, a detailed evaluation mechanism was put in place.

The Results Speak for Themselves

The Elementary Sports Program met or made progress toward meeting its high-level goals:

  • It boosted both interest and participation in sports for students in the district;
  • It increased participation rates in BIPOC neighborhoods and communities, increased the number of BIPOC coaches, and increased the number of girls (playing) and women of color (coaching).

Other outcomes of the initiative included that parents felt more connected to their child’s school and their community: they increased their involvement, developed relationships with each other, and developed improved relationships with their children. The program had positive impacts on students, who among other things became more physically active, exhibited increased confidence and learned life skills. The program also increased the quality of youth sports experience, and increased access to quality coach education in the district.

Chen Kong-Wick serves as the Program Manager for the Expanded Learning Program within the Oakland Unified School District. Alongside her dedicated team, they displayed unwavering commitment in launching this program. Regarding the program and the Oakland Sport Equity Coalition, she shared the following sentiments: “My participation in the Oakland Sport Equity Coalition convened by Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) has given me hope and ignited a transformative movement, not just how we offer youth sports but how we look at the after-school as a vehicle to consider advancing sports equity in Oakland due to our partnership with the community-based organizations. Through collaboration efforts and steadfast commitment to sports equity, PCA is a pioneer worth considering to be a part of. Their ability to unify diverse stakeholders, listen to the community’s needs, and work alongside to solve issues collectively is a testament to them living up to their core values at their best. The result of the coalition work is ground-breaking; it has helped districts like mine to dream big but, in some cases, do better for our young people. The initiative has opened doors to thousands of marginalized youth, and granted access to the invaluable benefits of organized sports. The work of this initiative reminds me that I am alone and can not work alone but through a collection of community-driven folks who align our values to stand up for what is right, anything is possible and is a beacon of hope for creating a more inclusive and brighter future for our children”

PCA and the Oakland Sport Equity Coalition are so excited to be honoring the Oakland Unified School District as our Partner of the Month. Together, we are forging a more inclusive and brighter future for our children. This partnership highlights the transformative power of collective action, proving that when communities come together to stand up for what is right, anything is possible. As we continue to work side by side, we are not only breaking down barriers in youth sports but also building bridges to a more equitable and promising tomorrow, where every child has the opportunity to thrive.