NFL And USC Join Together To Make An Impact On Youth At Risk In L.A.

July 9, 2007

The National Football League and the University of Southern California have teamed up on an inner city outreach program that will significantly help at-risk students in South Los Angeles, former 10-year NFL veteran and USC alumnus Riki Ellison announced today.

The program is known as the Youth Impact Program. It will reach out to 125 at-risk male middle school boys from neighborhoods throughout South Central Los Angeles. The outreach involves a daily 4-hour academic curriculum taught by local community elementary teachers and supported by USC students and staff, as well as football skill development in the afternoon. The program will begin on July 9 on the USC campus and will run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for four weeks. It is free to the participants.

'The Youth Impact Program focuses on three elements,' said Ellison. 'First, the incentive of exposure to the NFL and USC as well as providing free meals will motivate at-risk youth to participate in the program. The University of Southern California's Joint Educational Program (JEP) selects these young men based on need and risk. Once the boys are in the program, they will be surrounded by a positive university learning environment where the exposure and use of academics, language and mathematics skills will increase their aptitude in all of these important scholastic skills.'

'Secondly, we know that participation in the Youth Impact Program will get these young men away from the streets for one month in a positive, organized program that exposes them to athletics, character building, core values, and the positive aspects of discipline. This is in contrast to their challenging home environments.

'Thirdly, the Youth Impact Program provides support to the children of single parents through a mentorship program. The program develops and nurtures relationships between community mentors from the South Central Los Angles area as well as the USC campus community for these young boys to develop solid and lasting positive relationships that will endure after the program concludes. By developing these types of relationships, these young men will have additional guidance and support as they go through their formative years.

'This joint program will make a strong and lasting impact on the lives of these at-risk youth from South Central Los Angeles. The future of our community and society will be better for it.'

The Youth Impact Program is a joint summer enrichment camp comprised of the NFL's Junior Player Development (JPD) program and USC's Joint Educational Project (JEP). The camp will emphasize reading, math, character development, life skills and football. The program will continue throughout the year with follow-up meetings at each of the participating elementary school sites to include academic tutoring and social activities.

'The program is a huge proponent for giving these kids a chance to see what opportunities are available to them that they may not regularly see in their immediate neighborhoods,' said Denise Woods, program director of the Youth Impact Program at USC. 'We don't want them to feel that they can't participate because of lack of resources or other obstacles that they have no control over. We want all kids to have the same opportunities no matter their circumstances.'

Last year, in its pilot season, the program was an overwhelming success with more than 100 middle-school students participating in the program. This year, the program is fully funded by the NFL with supplemental in-kind support from USC.

'This is only the beginning,' said Ellison. 'The goal is to have a Youth Impact Program in every major city where there is an NCAA institution and a large population of youth at risk.'

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