Legacy Governance – LA84 Foundation

LA84 Foundation

  • Olympic City: Los Angeles
  • Country: United States of America
  • Edition of the Games: 1984 Summer Olympic Games
Since 1985
©Free Vector Maps

How Legacy Governance Started In Los Angeles

The LA84 Foundation, a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games, transforms lives and communities through its support of youth sports programmes in the City of Los Angeles and Southern California.

The LA84 Foundation is a nationally recognised leader in supporting youth sport programmes and public education on the role of sports in positive youth development. The foundation, with 30 years of on-the-ground experience, has supported thousands of Southern California youth sports organisations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues. LA84 levels the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, while elevating the field of youth sports as an integral part of American life.

Sport matters as 71% of Los Angeles youth do not currently obtain the recommended amount of exercise each week; 42% of low-income youth in Los Angeles are overweight or obese, while in contrast, 92% of LA public high school athletes graduate.

The LA84 Foundation’s impact can be summarised as follows:

  • More than 3 million youth and their families are impacted;
  • 2,200 not-for profit partners support the Foundation;
  • 30,000 kids are reached annually through LA84 programmes;
  • 42% of total participation is female participation;
  • 75,000 coaches have been trained so far.

The LA84 Foundation is proud to support young athletes and coaches, while evaluating the socio-emotional, health and academic outcomes of youth sports. LA84 creates sports opportunities for all kids and promotes the importance of sports in positive youth development.


Legacy is…

“When people are inspired to work together for the common good, then good things happen”, Renata Simril, President & CEO, LA84 Foundation.

The LA84 Foundation is a living legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games. The foundation supports youth sports in Southern California through grant making, coaching education, infrastructure investment, thought leadership, and research.  In addition, the LA84 Foundation celebrates the Olympic Movement and Olympic Values by operating an extensive online sports library available to a worldwide clientele and maintaining a collection of Olympic artifacts and posters which are displayed at the foundation’s headquarters.

What’s next?

“I don’t think (LA84 Foundation) should have a legacy. It should do its job each year and think about how it can be better each year, how it can impact more people and more kids. Everything either progresses or retrogresses, and I think LA84’s role is to continue to break new barriers and to do some new things that help further its mission.“ Peter Ueberroth, Chair of LAOOC 1984, LA Foundation Report 2012-2014.


Promote a healthy and active lifestyle

Sport matters, and above all, for the youth. It plays an essential role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, and has a tremendous impact on the life of the youth and their families. The Foundation supports youth sports in Southern California through grants to non-profit organizations that provide sports for youth. In addition, the foundation maintains an extensive online sports library; supports research on youth sports; and convenes meetings and conferences devoted to the examination of youth sports topics. The over-arching mission of the foundation is to eliminate the play-equity gap in youth sports. That is, the foundation works to ensure that all children regardless of family income, ethnicity, gender, and ability have the opportunity to participate in sport and reap the social, health and academic benefits associated with youth sports. Access to sport for all also implies an availability of sport facilities for all categories of people and the foundation invests in renewal and implementation of such facilities.

Promote social and constructive behaviour

Sport transmits essential values such as fair play, respect for rules, respect for peers, as well as pride in oneself and pride for the city. Education is the cornerstone of “living together” and sport is intrinsically linked to education.

The Foundation has placed education at the heart of its mission, making a significant investment in education through its library, research support, public op-ed postings on sports issues, and by convening thought leaders. Additionally, many of the youth sport programs that the LA84 Foundation funds through grants include an education component. The foundation particularly supports sports programming that intentionally seeks to provide benefits which transcend the field of play.

The foundation organises an annual Summit, a 350-person thought leadership conference that examines youth sports issues of interest to a national audience.

Through collective celebrations such as Olympic Day in the United States, the installation of plaques (funded by the LA84 Foundation) and the induction of Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Olympic Stadium in 1932 and 1984) Court of Honour, the Foundation contributes to the promotion of sport and Olympism-related values.


Figures speak for themselves and LA84 Foundation has achieved the following over more than 30 years:

  • More than 3 million youth and their families been impacted;
  • 2,200 non-profit partners support the Foundation;
  • 30,000 children are reached annually through LA84 programmes;
  • 42% of total participation has been female;
  • 75,000 coaches have been trained.

Through the number of kids helped, the number of grants distributed, participation inquiries and satisfaction questionnaires, LA84 has a solid understanding of its impact. The Foundation releases a biannual report.

Key Challenges

In the 1970s youth sports in Los Angeles faced the same problems that existed in most large US cities. Sporting choices were limited. Education and certification for coaches was few and far between. Most girls did not play formal sports. Young people with intellectual or physical disabilities had very few options for play. Fact-based evidence attesting to the importance of sport in young people’s lives was rare. And race, ethnicity and income tended to exclude low-income children and people of colour from sports that required expensive equipment, travel and membership in clubs, such as – aquatics, tennis, golf, skiing, rowing and cycling.

These problems existed throughout Southern California but were most acute in Los Angeles and other large cities. Therefore, in 1978, the City of Los Angeles signed a multi-party agreement with the IOC, NOC, and the OCO to establish a private foundation devoted to improving youth sports in Southern California, in the event that the 1984 Olympic Games resulted in a surplus.

The 1984 Games ended with a $232.5 million surplus, of which 40% was used to create the LA84 Foundation. The foundation has never strayed from its core mission of improving youth sports in Southern California, through grant making, coach education and educating the public on the role of sport in society.

Grant making took two forms – programs and infrastructure. Most grant making was programmatic. In its first three decades, however, the foundation made $20.4 million in infrastructure grants, benefiting nearly 100 facilities. In recent years, the foundation has made its advocacy and communications efforts more explicit, focusing on the Play Equity Movement to bring the transformational power of sport to all children.

Key learnings and recommendations

The LA84 Foundation, in three-and-a-half decades of operation, has learned three overarching lessons: 1) Play Equity is an ongoing problem in youth sports, 2) the youth sports landscape is constantly changing, and 3) solving problems requires a coordinated effort among many partners from a variety of sectors. To be successful, the LA84 Foundation has had to navigate these issues in a way that accounts for this changing landscape and evolving knowledge.

Encouraging progress has been made on Play Equity. Developments since the foundation began operations in 1985 suggest that we are headed in the right direction.

  • There is a wider range of sports choices for low-income families.
  • Far more girls play sports than in the 1970s.
  • The number and variety of programs for both the intellectually and physically disabled have grown.
  • Coaching education is the norm rather than the exception.
  • There is a body of research that frames sports participation as a key component of positive youth development.

These encouraging developments, though, are threatened by change, as well as the persistence of certain problems.

  • The rise of pay-to-play youth sports in the US has created a youth sports industry that privileges the affluent, and this is reflected in physical-activity rates correlating with family income.
  • Girls still participate in lower numbers than boys.
  • Options for disabled children remain limited.
  • Many policy makers, despite a wealth of research to the contrary, still regard youth sports as a luxury, not as an essential.
  • The Internet, social media, streaming, video games and other aspects of the information revolution provide young people with a growing number of non-sports diversions.

Today, the foundation functions much as an NGO, relying on private/public partnerships and using its platform to advocate for the value of sports.

The foundation provides support to a diverse range of youth sports providers – both public and private – in dozens of sports. Working toward Play Equity requires constant vigilance and the willingness to adjust priorities and tactics, while retaining the goal of providing sports opportunities to everyone, especially those who have historically been excluded.



More information


The full case is available in printable version on the members’ portal

In addition to the above description, the PDF version also gathers practical information including internal and external partners involved; finance and cost; use of the olympic brand; human resources and time; and contact details. 

The World Union of Olympic Cities’ team remains at your disposal for any further information and contact’s facilitation at info@olympiccities.org 

Additional resources can be found through the following links:


Going to the Olympics

Going to the Olympics

Frank Romero "Going to the Olympics"©2017 Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles - Photo: John Humble
  • Olympic City: Los Angeles
  • Country: United States of America
  • Edition of the Games: 1932 & 1984 Olympic Summer Games
Locals & Visitors

Description of the Project

Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles 

To mark the hosting of the Summer Olympic Games in 1984, the city of Los Angeles decided to create ten painted murals along the two main highways leading up to the Olympic stadium. This was part of the beginning of a larger artistic movement in Los Angeles. This movement grew quickly to become responsible for the creation of a huge number of similar murals in every corner of the City.

Over the years, many of the murals have fallen into significant disrepair. Rogue artists began to tag unsanctioned graffiti on top of the existing artwork. Many murals were completely covered as a result, resulting in a significant artistic loss for the city.

These developments led to the founding of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles (MCLA). The MCLA is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to restore, preserve and document the painted murals that are located at various points around the City. The organisation is composed of city and state officials, artists, public art advocates and restoration specialists.

The MCLA currently operates a restoration project, initially launched to help restore the City’s various murals, with a specific focus on those created for the 1984 Olympics. The project rapidly expanded to other murals in the city and as of today, they have restored and documented hundreds of murals in the greater Los Angeles area.

The success of the MCLA has led to the extensions of their work in the City. The organisation recently collaborated with the organisers of the Special Olympic Games, which took place in Los Angeles in 2015. Three new murals were sanctioned to celebrate the Special Olympic Games while simultaneously commemorating the 1984 Games.

The association has also become increasingly active within local communities, organising various arts workshops in different neighbourhoods throughout the City. This helps to generate public interest and involvement in the creation, maintenance and preservation of the City’s mural artwork.


Celebrate Olympism and its values

The narrative backdrop of the Olympic connection with the programme has enabled the City to raise more awareness among its citizens about its projects. This has been particularly important in informing citizens about the hosting of the Special Olympic Games for which three brand new murals were commissioned. Similarly, the Olympic link has been crucial in generating awareness amongst the local population about the educational artistic courses offered by the MCLA. The original murals created in 1984 have inspired many other artistic works that have been developed since to cover similar Olympic themes. The fact that the City’s artists are still influenced by what happened during the Games over 30 years previously are a testimony to the power of the Olympic Spirit.

Promote social and constructive behaviour

Much of the MCLA programme takes place in disadvantaged communities. The creation and restoration of murals in these areas improves the visual landscape of the neighbourhood as well as dispelling the notion within these communities that nobody cares for them. The local population is heavily involved in the project and this helps to engage these citizens, bringing together people from across different backgrounds under a common goal.  The initiative brings a renewed air of positivity and harmony to these disadvantaged neighbourhoods, uniting the community under a shared environment of friendship and respect.




Evaluating an artistic project always includes a more subjective component that makes measurement of the results less easy. Evaluation is based on the number of murals restored. Not only the murals dedicated to the Olympics are concerned. Success includes the spread of the restoration initiative to murals all over the city and beyond the 1984 Olympic ones.

Growing ownership of the local population on this visible and free testimony from the past also contributes to assess the success of the project. The acceleration of the identification, preservation and restoration processes of the murals also show that the people in charge of the project have improved skills and efficiency.


Key Challenges


Selecting the targeted spaces

For the newly commissioned Special Olympics murals, the MCLA originally anticipated that there would be no major challenges in securing their preferred mural sites and finalising arrangements with the relevant property owners. In the end, it took significantly longer than expected to find and secure the walls that matched the desired criteria. This was a direct result of the preferred sites needing to be close to the Special Olympic venues and having optimum visibility. It also took longer than planned to finalise the necessary documentation and to sign the relevant agreements with owners of the properties in question.

This challenge eased as the project aged and grew. The more sites were secured the more skilled the organisers became in finding and finalising them. Similarly, the more agreements that were reached with owners, the easier it was to demonstrate the benefits associated with having the murals in the area.


Working with the artists

The MCLA encountered some issues with many of the artists that were initially selected to contribute to the projects. Some artists were not capable of working to the agreed standard and many had to be replaced in the middle of the work being performed. Artists can be very protective of their concepts and designs and trying to adapt these to conditions such as timelines, cost or other factors can generate blockages and barriers.

The MCLA quickly realised that in such instances, it was often easier to drop the existing artist and replace them with a new artist and new concept that would suit the prevailing circumstances. This was usually amicably accepted by both the organisers and the artists in question who prefer not to compromise on their original concept and vision.


Key Learnings & Recommendations


Remain flexible

Given the unforeseen challenges faced by the MCLA, the organisation has had to adapt to numerous new situations over the course of the project thus far. These challenges were far greater than expected and they underlined the importance of staying as nimble and flexible as possible at every stage of the project. The MCLA now regards this flexibility as essential in the completion of all future projects. They devote more time for the initiation phase of their projects and have become more aware that unanticipated time delays are often a reality. They have also moved to allocate a larger portion of the budget for the initiation phase to reflect the fact that many unforeseen issues occur at this point.


Take advantage of marketing opportunities

The MCLA works with an expert marketing team to help with the communication of their various projects. The Association members worked closely with this unit and remained heavily involved in the different communication activities driven by the team. This helped to generate significant learning outcomes for many of the MCLA’s own members. Experience in the scheduling of communications and the media, the channels selected and the use of social media, for example has been generated from this partnership than can be carried forward within the MCLA.



More information


The full case is available in printable version on the members’ portal

In addition to the above description, the PDF version also gathers practical information including internal and external partners involved; finance and cost; use of the olympic brand; human resources and time; and contact details. 

The World Union of Olympic Cities’ team remains at your disposal for any further information and contact’s facilitation at info@olympiccities.org 

Additional resources can be found through the following links: