Conservation and STEAM: How a Soccer Team Funder Gives Back in Los Angeles

photo:  Photo Works/shutterstock

photo:  Photo Works/shutterstock

Professional sports team funders don’t necessarily award exceptionally large grants or venture out into uncharted terrain with their commitments. But what continues to interest us about these funders is their hyper-local focus and their unique ways of developing partnerships in the community. For example, one Major League Soccer team funder, the LA Galaxy Foundation, has used its giving power to install a GRID Alternative solar panel for a low-income local community member.

Something else that’s interesting about the LA Galaxy Foundation is its environment focus. Nearly every sports team funder looks to give back to local children and youth. But this one has an environmental sustainability initiative that’s all about reducing the impact of its soccer games and supporting conservation projects out in the community. The initiative is called Protect the Pitch, and it was launched in March 2016 to help sports fan and the broader LA area save water, reduce waste, and conserve energy.

However, this foundation places a priority on local children in Los Angeles as well. It regularly supports groups that encourage, educate, and empower children. And it does so by accepting charitable donations, hosting game night auctions, selling commemorative match posters, and other fundraising events.

Last fall, for example, the foundation partnered with the Southern New Hampshire University to host students from four city middle schools for a STEAM education project. They invited students in a home-school program to attend as well and tied the principles of soccer to STEAM subjects through data collection and analysis. The program was part youth outreach and part STEAM introduction, linking sports and education in an engaging way that only professional athletes can do.

"The goal behind this program is to re-engage youth who love sports to introduce the subjects of STEAM, to see that these programs can be fun but educational at the same time," said Celeste Soto, the LA Galaxy Foundation's community relations manager. "This allows us another touch point and an educational component that we didn't have before."

Another recent LA Galaxy Foundation partnership involved the LA Regional Food Bank focused on feeding the hungry in Los Angeles. The team's Star Squad and staff members helped prepare and distribute at least 900 meals to local senior citizens facing food insecurity as part of this effort. Earlier this fall, the foundation partnered with Playworks to promote the positive benefits of playtime in dozens of schools across Southern California. Just recently, the team has been collecting donations to benefit residents displaced by Los Angeles area wildfires.

In total, the LA Galaxy Foundation has donated more than $3.5 million to support the local Los Angeles community. But as with many sports team funders, its greatest power lies in the events it hosts. The funder facilitates more than 150 events each year and is raising awareness for youth and the environment in ways that outshines modest financial contributions.

You can learn more about LA Galaxy Foundation events and grants in the team’s news section.