LAFC Foundation

LAFC Foundation: Force For Good Fridays Newsletter 8/18/23

lafc foundation newsletter

Who We Are

The LAFC Foundation furthers our Club’s mission of uniting the world’s city through the world’s game, bringing joy to people, and being a force for good in our community by supporting critical programs and bringing the indomitable Black & Gold spirit wherever we go. By supporting the programming and infrastructure that allow young people to access our favorite game, we provide not only fun and physical exercise – but also critical mentorship and a pathway to lifelong success beyond the pitch.

Leslie Moreno (back, center) and YLP youth

Spotlight: LAFC Youth Leadership Program

The LAFC Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is a community-based program focused on college and career readiness, life and social skill development, and coaching and sport-based youth development. YLP has wrapped the 2022-2023 school year, and we’re so excited that eight student leaders are headed to college this fall:

  • Richard Bernal, CSULA
  • Jonathan Duran, UC Santa Cruz
  • Eder Florian, CSUN
  • Martin Gonzalez, CSULA
  • Tatiana Ramirez, CSUN
  • Leslie Moreno, UCSD
  • Kimberly Tepetzi, Cal Poly Pomona
  • Angie Ramirez, West LA College

Leslie Moreno

An LA native, YLP Leader Leslie Moreno was born in Echo Park and later moved to Westlake. She’s close with her Salvadoran family and loves the game of soccer. After graduating from the School for the Visual Arts and Humanities at RFK this spring (where she played on the varsity soccer team!), she’s headed to UCSD to major in Clinical Psychology.

In June, Leslie was awarded YLP’s Most Valuable Leader.

How did you get into YLP?

“I’d known about YLP because I saw the impact firsthand – my friends told me how positive their experience was. My freshman year of high school I was going through depression and wanted to focus on something positive. I decided to apply to be a part of something that made an impact on the youth in my community and help anyone going through the same experience.

Working with the kids gave me the support I needed; they brought me happiness. Since joining YLP I’ve felt a positive change in myself. It’s made me into a better person.”

Tell us about your experience as a Youth Leader.

“At times it was the best and at times it was tough, but I learned to have patience, listen, and trust the process. Over time I built relationships with the kids and got to really learn who they are. We used our four pillars as YLP leaders to influence the kids: accountability, integrity, community, and commitment.

The trainings were a highlight for me. I liked getting creative with the lessons so the kids could enjoy it more. It wasn’t all about showing soccer skills – we focused on mental health and how to take care of ourselves when going through situations.

At the end of the day, it was important to show the kids what it means to be a youth leader and a leader in the community. I also built positive relationships with the staff. I found a family in them which supported me and helped me grow.”

How did YLP help you grow?

In the beginning everything was through Zoom, and I didn’t like joining because I felt intimidated by everyone who was there for a long time. I kept myself away but over the years Luke, Bobby, and Benji pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Now I’m more outgoing and mature. I learned how to be more confident with my public speaking skills; I learned how to interact with the parents of the youth we supported. YLP really helped with my depression. Everyone feels like family. It’s good vibes all the time.

In June, I was awarded Most Valuable Leader. This validated my strengths as a leader and showed how I allowed myself to grow into the best version of myself over the years in the program.”

Tell us more about the award!

I received the award at the End of Year Celebration on June 17th. My site coordinator told me that I was the most valuable leader because I embodied our four pillars (accountability, integrity, community, and commitment). He said I was an influence on not only the youth in the program, but also the other leaders.

The commitment pillar is the one I connected to the most – I put all of my effort and hard work into YLP. I dedicated myself to the fullest. I was the leader that lived furthest from our program location, but I always made sure to show up on time to show my commitment to the kids.

This award means a lot because it came from my second family and shows my efforts paid off to a program that gave me so much. When my coordinator handed it to me, he said he was grateful for me. Now I know I’m capable of taking the four pillars into my life to guide me in college.”

What advice do you have for future YLP leaders?

“Never give up on yourself because you never know what could happen. I didn’t give up on myself and look where I am now. I didn’t know that I’d be going to UCSD or that I’d receive an award for my leadership, but I didn’t give up on myself and that’s what got me here.

There are so many opportunities that come with YLP beyond working with the kids. You get to build relationships with staff, and network with players and other LAFC staff members. You never know who you’ll meet or what connection you’ll make: lean on the relationships you create.”

How did YLP prepare you for the next journey in your life?

“College is a very different stage. It’s scary, but I’m in a good place going off to UCSD. YLP helped me see that I’m ready for the next journey. I owe it to YLP and to myself to keep going in life.

I’m a little sad I won’t be a Youth Leader anymore. But I know that YLP is my community. I’ll always have them there. That’s my second family.”

think watts
LAFC and BMO are committed to growing the good in the Los Angeles community while driving equity and impact. BMO and LAFC are donating $25,000 to ThinkWatts to grow the game of soccer in Watts and launch the inaugural ThinkWatts FC League.

LAFC Foundation Highlights

ThinkWatts FC BMO Grant

At the June 17th ThinkWatts Street Fair, BMO and the LAFC Foundation presented ThinkWatts with $25,000 to kick-off their inaugural FC league. The goal of ThinkWatts FC is to give kids in Watts the exposure needed to play at an elite level – i.e., a pipeline to the LAFC Academy. The funding from BMO will help provide training and support for coaching staff, equipment for training and competitions, and jerseys.

Nick's Kids
Kellyn Acosta visited the Nicks Kids Soccer Program this spring to announce the project. The refurbishment of the court is expected to be completed Summer 2023.

Nicks Kids Field

The LAFC Foundation and The Kellyn Acosta Foundation teamed up to present a grant to Nicks Kids Soccer Program
in Watts. The funds will be used to complete the refurbishment of the 109th St. Recreational Park community soccer field, including new turf, and support future soccer and health and wellness programming in Watts.

Looking Forward

Visit the LAFC Foundation auction to bid on exclusive memorabilia & help the LAFC Foundation continue to be a force for good in the community!

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Thank You

Thank you to all who support our team’s critical social impact work. To date, we’ve had the privilege to positively impact thousands of underserved youth in the Los Angeles area. We are excited to watch this number grow exponentially in the years to come – and we couldn’t do any of it without you.

We look forward to keeping you updated with our Force for Good Friday newsletters. In the meantime, follow along on our Instagram, @lafcfoundation!

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