Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts – Student Trainer Program

Addressing Social Inequities
With your partnership, Level Ground will address the following needs and social inequities for vulnerable youth through several strategies unique to our organization:
Gaps in academic achievement: A McKinsey & Company 2020 report estimated that a 7 month school shut down scenario would result in Black students falling behind by 10.3 months, Hispanic students by 9.2 months, and low-income students by more than a year. The report projects that this scenario would exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15-20%. Boston Public Schools? in-person learning was partially/fully shut down for 14 months, suggesting that initial projections for long-last learning gaps may be more severe than originally anticipated.
Youth poverty and unemployment: Between 2000 and 2017, teenagers in Massachusetts faced a 37% drop in employment. 85.3% of all young people in Boston, 17 years and under and impoverished, are Black and Latino (Jennings). Black and Latino males faced higher unemployment at 21.5% and 13.7% compared to 6.1% for White males, ages 16 to 64 (Jennings). The Brookings Institution ranked Boston as having the highest level of income inequality among the 100 largest cities in the United States.
Obesity: The pre-pandemic obesity rates in the neighborhoods that Level Ground serves are: Dorchester: 33%, Roxbury: 31%, Mattapan: 40%. Rates of obesity are nearly or more than double that of predominantly White neighborhoods, including South Boston (17%) and Back Bay (8%).

Addressing youth poverty and unemployment
Strategy 1: Success Mapping: Staff supports youth through individualized coaching and mentorship during youths’ high school and college careers (detailed previously).
Strategy 2: Year-long Employment Opportunities: The majority of workforce development programs in the City maintain terms of just 2 months, with few going as long as 6 months or more. However, data suggests that it takes up to 6 months just to become fully competent and productive in a new job (MIT Sloan Review.) The Student Trainer program distinguishes itself as we provide employment opportunities for young people for one year or more. This model ensures that young people have the necessary time to fully learn/apply their new skill sets, and provides a predictable stream of income over a longer time period. Furthermore, we provide youth with opportunities to earn permanent employment with Level Ground or a partner once the program concludes so that our young people continue to work and develop professional skills.
Strategy 3: Workforce Development Pipeline to Employment Specialization: By selecting a specialization, youth are granted increased ownership over their experience at Level Ground. They focus on building a skill set that they are passionate about and is relevant to their future career interests. This is in contrast to many workforce development organizations that generally offer training in just one specialty. The experience that Fitness Professional youth garner is detailed extensively in the previous sections of this proposal. Youth on the Gym Management track garner a broad professional skill set in administration, management, operations, and client management, which they can apply to any industry that they work for in the future.
Strategy 4: Internship: Youth will be placed in an internship with a Level Ground partner aligned with the youths? career interests so that they may 1) cultivate further professional experience, and 2) gain access to a professional network. Our current internship partners represent a variety of industries, including apparel, health and fitness, finance, and construction, and include small businesses (ie. local fitness centers) as well as large companies (ie. Reebok). We are currently piloting the internship program, and will continue to scale the internship program to include additional partners in 2023.

Addressing gaps in academic achievement
Strategy 1: Integration of our College Access Program: To ensure that 100% of our Student Trainers that want to go to college successfully do so, Level Ground couples academics with our workforce development and athletic programs. For Student Trainers, up to 4 paid hours/week are dedicated to participation in our Academic Tutoring and College Preparedness and Guidance Program offerings. This structure helps youth maintain their grades and remain competitive for college entry. As a result, youth do not have to choose between maintaining employment and devoting time to succeeding academically.
Strategy 2: Post-Secondary Partnerships: We continue to cultivate post-secondary partners that provide free or reduced-cost tuition for our Student Trainers and Dedicated Youth. Partners include Benjamin Franklin, The BASE, Foundation Year, Duet, and Year Up. Level Ground has carefully selected these partners as they have tailored their programs to the unique needs of youth within our demographic.

Addressing Obesity
Level Ground offers 21 weekly athletic classes Monday-Saturday that remain free to youth. Additionally, we provide weekly training in Nutrition and Healthy Eating to youth in partnership with Tufts University.