US Lacrosse is accepting new member applications for the Urban Lacrosse Alliance (ULA), an affiliation of like-minded organizations dedicated to expanding lacrosse opportunities for urban youth. If approved, ULA members receive resources from US Lacrosse to support lacrosse development in underserved areas.
Applications are available online and will be accepted through June 1, 2018.
To be eligible for ULA consideration, existing organizations must provide lacrosse participation opportunities in which a majority of the participants are urban or underrepresented youth. Organizations must also provide participants with life skills enrichment (tutoring, mentorship, college guidance) and deliver their programming through experienced and committed leaders.
Resources provided annually by US Lacrosse to ULA affiliates include lacrosse sticks, uniforms, cleats, subsidized officials fees, and field rental assistance, among other things. The support provided is designed to be sufficiently flexible to enable applicants to address needs unique to their local lacrosse community.
“US Lacrosse is committed to supporting urban lacrosse development because we understand that there are distinct challenges associated with starting programs in underrepresented communities and we want to assist those admirable efforts across the country,” said Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse. “Our ability to continually support program leaders with different resources and educational tools also allows us to learn more about each program and their local lacrosse community.”
Among the newer benefits offered to ULA members is the opportunity to participate in an annual affiliates’ conference, designed to enhance networking and education opportunities among youth coaches and administrators. Building off the success of last year’s inaugural conference, this year’s event is scheduled for August 4-5 at the US Lacrosse headquarters in Maryland.
“We had a lot of positive feedback about last year’s conference, and we’re excited to be hosting this event again in 2018 to facilitate the opportunity for ULA members to share ideas and successes with each other,” Preston-Laurent said. “We hope that the exchange of best practices and strategies will allow for further success in each program.”
Created in 2014, the Urban Lacrosse Alliance is an initiative that supports US Lacrosse’s strategic goal to help foster increased diversity and inclusion efforts within the game. With 54 current members, the ULA includes organizations in Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and New York, among other cities.
Keith Quigley, executive director of PUCKidz, a non-profit youth sports program in Chula Vista, California, says that ULA resources help to make a difference in the lives of young people.
“What we are really trying to teach them is life lessons through lacrosse,” he said. “We want kids being in a successful environment getting the opportunity to play the game.”
Serving a heavily diverse community, PUCKidz exposes lacrosse to many kids and families that have never seen the game before. PUCKidz became a ULA member in 2017.