Los Angeles Rams players have donated $750,000 to local social justice organizations, with a familiar Inglewood non-profit being included in the generous donation.
Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) has been at the forefront of educating Inglewood residents on healthy eating habits, with signature fruit tree giveaways and community gardens, but has also stepped up efforts to combat gentrification.
SJLI founder Dr. D’artagnan Scorza was on both sides of the conundrum facing Inglewood residents: he was the face of the NFL stadium initiative playing a prominent and vital role in the Inglewood city council approving the petition in January 2015, and then had to convince the city to implement rent control to ensure long-term residents weren’t priced out as a direct result.
“This means jobs for the young men I work with,” said Scorza. “It’s a reflection (of how) this initiative resonates with the community as well as the desire of our community to benefit from this type of economic development.”
SJLI was a part of the Uplift Inglewood coalition, that pushed for affordable housing initiatives, for Inglewood residents, through an aggressive strategy to get city leaders to implement rent control due to the community feeling “pushed out” because the NFL came to town.
The city adopted a formal rent control ordinance in November 2019 that according to the city’s Housing Protection Program, is currently being amended before landlords begin to pay registration fees in March 2021.
Rent control was a hot button issue for Scorza for he also serves as an advisory board member of the Inglewood Unified School District and saw a continued decline in enrollment due in part to the rising rent.
“We’ve been able to get the city to take a major step forward,” said Scorza. “We think this can be a model throughout the state and even the country.”
SJLI will receive $20,000 to continue improving education, health and wellbeing of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change through research, training and community mobilization.
MICHAEL BROCKERS, JOHNNY HEKKER, SEBASTIAN JOSEPH-DAY and ANDREW WHITWORTH helped lead the process, participating in virtual conversations with the organizations and determining how to allocate the funds.
“As a leader on this team, it was important to me to be part of these conversations,” said Brockers. “My teammates and I are very aware of the social injustices that continue to occur, and we made a decision to become actively involved in helping to be part of the change that is desperately needed. It was awesome to hear from so many different leaders and non-profits that are putting the work in to make real change and I’m honored to support them.”
“In my 15 years in the NFL, this has definitely been one of the most inspiring things that I have had the opportunity to be part of,” said Whitworth. “It was an amazing process that allowed us to learn about a variety of non-profits working across Los Angeles to positively impact lives and advance social justice. The chance to hear directly from them on how we could help left us both humbled and motivated. On behalf of my teammates, we thank them for their daily passion and commitment to drive equity and are proud to support their important work.”