LOS ANGELES – Several students sit at a table, laptops in front of them, as they listen to instruction during a class about building their own virtual reality environment. About 25 feet away, several others sit in front of desktop computers while receiving instruction on a motion graphics project.
Before SoLa Impact's The Beehive opened its doors on September 18, 2019, such classes likely would have been difficult to access for under-resourced students in South Los Angeles. Now, thanks to The Beehive's 92,000 square-foot opportunity zone campus, which includes the SoLa Tech and Entrepreneurship Center, it isn't.
Efforts like this to bridge the technology gap are why SoLa Impact Chief Impact Officer Sherri Francois – who also serves as Executive Director and President of the Board for SoLa Impact's non-profit affiliate, the I CAN Foundation – has been named the Rams' first pLAymaker. She was surprised with a $5,000 check from The Los Angeles Rams Foundation last Friday at The Beehive.
"I am so grateful for the acknowledgement," Francois said. "I know that I'm in a space with many, many, many other phenomenal organizations, phenomenal people who are trying to make change here in LA. But to be specifically recognized as the first playmaker is an extraordinary, extraordinary feeling. I am very thankful to the Rams for the acknowledgement. I'm very thankful for the recognition for the community as a whole, and some of the needs of the community. There are plenty of folks that kind of what I call, 'talk the talk,' wanting to help, wanting to be there, but there are fewer that are actually 'walking the walk,' and the Rams have been there, and they are really showing up for not only the youth and young adults here in the facility, but the community as a whole. And so it feels wonderful, and surprising."