The Los Angeles Rams have announced Marc Maye, general manager of the Watts Rams, co-founder of 4wrdProgress and executive director of Project Blue, as their recipient of their 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award. Established by the NFL last season, the award recognizes individuals who are making a difference in their communities through social justice work, either individually or as part of a nonprofit organization, across each of the league's 32 club markets.
Leading up to the Rams victorious 'Inspire Change' matchup versus the Washington Commanders, Rams Legend and 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist Torry Holt surprised Maye with the award during the team's second annual Inspire Change Bowl for local youth football programs coached by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers. In addition, Holt and the Rams recognized Maye during an on-field recognition at Sunday's game and surprised him with Super Bowl LVIII tickets.
Maye is the embodiment of lifting while you climb. Since co-founding 4wdProgress in 2017, Maye has used an innovative approach to help disadvantaged youth through the power of sports. 4wrdProgress, alongside Project Blue and the Watts Rams, serve youth residing in one of the most gang affiliated and recurrently violent communities of South Central Los Angeles. The area is home to around 30 gangs and five housing developments in a small radius, making it one of the most challenging environments for young people to grow and thrive in.
Maye's approach to tackling challenging social issues head on has made a real difference in the lives of young people in South Central Los Angeles, Watts and Compton demonstrating that it is possible to make a positive impact with the right approach. By using sports to develop character, Maye is helping to shape a generation of successful and responsible individuals who can make a difference in their communities.
"Marc has made youth development his life's work," said Molly Higgins, executive vice president of community impact and engagement, Los Angeles Rams. "Through his leadership with the Watts Rams, he is intentional about using the game of football to get the attention of the kids and is then very strategic about exposing them to enrichment opportunities that can help change their life trajectory. He often draws from his own life experience and upbringing to connect with the youth and show them a pathway to success. He's the epitome of 'if you can see it, you can be it.' Beyond his work with the Watts Rams, his efforts with Project Blue and 4wrd Progress further demonstrate his unending commitment to helping inspire positive change in our community."
In 2019, the Rams launched a partnership with the Watts Rams (formerly known as the Watts Bears). Designed to bridge the gap between communities of color and law enforcement, the Watts Rams is a coed youth football program coached by LAPD officers that focuses on improving community-police relations. Beyond the game of football, the Rams provide the Watts Rams with educational opportunities, access to players, coaches and staff, and enrichment activities throughout the year. In 2021, the Rams brought on Maye to be the general manager of the Watts Rams to help them continue to elevate the impact of the program.
Maye's efforts are aimed at creating success stories like his own by providing the same guidance and tools that helped him rise out of difficult circumstances. Each week, Maye provides youth in the community with access to mentorship, leadership training and exposure to positive role models.
One of the most notable outcomes of Maye's work has been the reduction of violence and crime in the community. According to the LAPD, violent crime in Watts has decreased since the Watts Rams program was launched. This is a direct result of the program's efforts to engage young people in positive activities, build relationships between the community and law enforcement, and provide opportunities for growth and success. To date, the program has impacted more than 1,000 youth after registering only twenty-two sign ups in its first year.
Maye's efforts with the Watts Rams, Project Blue and 4wrdProgress have not only helped inspire young people in the community, but also other individuals and organizations who are looking to make a difference. He has become a role model for those who believe in the power of sports to transform lives and promote positive change, including the Los Angeles Rams. Maye's numerous accolades, including being featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show and hosting his very own Ted Talk, are a testament to the impact he has made in the community.
Inspire Change Changemaker Award recipients were selected based on their outstanding work in the community, supporting one or more of the four key pillars encompassed in the Inspire Change Initiative: Police-Community Relations, Criminal Justice Reform, Education and Economic Advancement.
Inspire Change is the NFL's social justice initiative which showcases the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the League to create positive change in communities across the country and ensure that equal opportunity becomes a reality for all. Since 2017, the NFL family has provided more than $244 million to 37 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country, nearing its 10-year, $250 million commitment to social justice efforts.
All 32 recipients will receive a $10,000 donation to the social justice 501c3 nonprofit organization of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation.