Nonprofit started by 49ers great Ronnie Lott gives grants to 5 Bay Area youth programs

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Five Bay Area nonprofits focused on empowering young people got a big boost Tuesday from 49er great Ronnie Lott.

Each one was selected for a grant for the way it's helping to give a voice and opportunities to residents of low-income communities. Race and social justice are pillars of Building A Better Bay Area.

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When he looks back on his football career, pro Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott remembers everyone can benefit from coaching. Each year, the nonprofit All Stars Helping Kids he started with his wife, Karen, selects organizations working with young people in underserved communities.

Five groups will receive $75,000 each, along with three years of coaching and mentoring, to extend their impact and build their financial and organizational strength. Empowering young people is the focus.

"It's like us selecting Ronnie Lott as a rookie," said Lott. "You're selecting these young guys and these young people, and you're trying to give them a chance so they can earn their way on the field."

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Youth Beat is one of this year's recipients. It provides media training at eight Oakland schools and at after-school programs, turning young people from consumers into creators of digital content. The program serves more than 400 students each year.

"They can actually start learning these skills, make connections, start creating their own work and be hard and be told that they're good at something," said executive director Jake Schoneker. "It's just huge."

Youth Beat gives its students a voice, an opportunity to express themselves at a time when there is a call for more diversity and social justice. At the same time, it provides a path toward a future career.

"These are the next generation that we're cultivating, to come up to be the next stars and be the next directors, to be the next video producers that are going to make the next big Super Bowl spots and the big commercials in the industry," said Schoneker.

The program has operated for 10 years. One of Ronnie Lott's goals is to help sustain other nonprofits during their first three years when he says 90% of them fail.

See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.
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