(CATHEDRAL CITY, Ca.) – Every child in the Coachella Valley corridor deserves Gainful, Relatable, Opportunities for a Well-rounded Life.

That’s a promise from the SoCal Coyotes non-profit organization, which this week launched its G.R.O.W.L.™ mentoring program – to spring mostly minority girls and boys from the hardest generational cycles of poverty.

The Coyotes impact more than 50,000 youth annually through the organization’s ‘Above The Line™’ character camps, clinics, and leadership symposia.

“Our data reveals that the need of the hour within the urban core is positive, relatable role models, and a plausible pathway to sustainable income,” says Coyotes’ non-profit founder J David Miller.

Coyotes’ team captain Joel Felix personifies the organization’s ‘Above The Line’ mentoring programs, such as this ‘character camps’ with the Los Angeles Rams

“No child is ‘born bad,’” Miller adds. “We are passionate for those vulnerable populations with gaps in leadership and opportunities. So many of the youth we’ve served are subjected to exclusionary practices, or encounter the juvenile justice system, or both, while having untreated or under-treated behavioral health issues that a program like G.R.O.W.L. will instantly change.”

Behind brand awareness and their formidable platform as ‘America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program,’ the Coyotes’ 501(c)(3) has shifted into high gear as a provider of youth and family behavioral health in the Coachella Valley.

The announcement of G.R.O.W.L. comes at a critical time for desert youth. The Coachella Valley high-school dropout rate annually hovers at near 30-percent, led by the most vulnerable populations.

Adding to the crisis is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has evaporated jobs, extra-curricular school programs and countless sports opportunities. The demand for G.R.O.W.L., or programs like it, is palpable.

“Children deserve the dignity of receiving quality mentoring services that allow them to lead healthy and productive lives in their homes and communities,” says Coyotes SVP Ron DiGrandi, who oversees the organization’s ‘Above The Line’ initiatives.

“We’ve had a front-row seat to the school-to-prison and school-to-institution pipelines, in real time,” he adds. Since 2014, the Coyotes have quietly teamed with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department and District Attorney’s Office to provide a lifeline for at-risk youth.

From star linebacker, to assistant coach, to now mentor, Greg Marshall has been a homegrown success story the SoCal Coyotes organization since 2013, playing key roles in five of the team’s six championships

The goal of G.R.O.W.L., in turn, is to never let it reach that point.

The median Coachella Valley annual income for a high-school graduate is $34,000. For youth who can stay motivated to earn a college degree, their median annual income shoots to nearly $60,000.

Less than three percent of the latter will ever find themselves below the poverty line in their lifetime.

The six-time champion Coyotes know a thing or two about performance under pressure – and refining human potential. For nearly a decade, they’ve developed over 700 players into better fathers, better husbands, and better men.

The Coyotes have groomed and graduated hundreds of players and staff with the intention of one day being able to offer them full-time mentoring roles that reciprocate the mission of the non-profit.

That future is now.

G.R.O.W.L. mentors will work with middle school counselors to identify eighth-graders who are most vulnerable to dropping out of high school. At the end of their eighth-grade year, those recommendations will be candidates for the G.R.O.W.L. mentoring program.

G.R.O.W.L. will assign these students a ‘Coyote Coach’ to help them navigate life through all four years of high school. Tops among eligible Coyote mentors are former star linebacker turned defensive assistant coach, Greg Marshall, as well as team captains Joel Felix and Jake Sheffield. Those three alone have recorded thousands of volunteer hours counseling Coachella Valley youth.

Coachella Valley community advocate Jennifer Braun, founder of Caring For Others, calls SoCal Coyotes’ social-service programs ‘long overdue’

Jennifer Braun, a leading health care services consultant and founder of Caring for Others, a nonprofit based in Southern California. says the G.R.O.W.L. program is long overdue.

“In working with the Coyotes and other social service organizations throughout the desert and California,” Braun says, “I have realized through our collective beliefs that the need for these mental health and mentoring services for youth is critical.”

She adds, “We have demonstrative evidence that if these services are rendered, we can produce

more just outcomes throughout the Coachella Valley.”


The six-time champion SoCal Coyotes are the national standard of American developmental football, and are 88-13 under Hall of Fame head coach and non-profit founder J David Miller. The Coyotes’ organization provides elite athletes a professional environment that refines and showcases their skills through trademarked processes similar to the NBA’s D-league and MLB’s minor-league systems.

Additionally, the Coyotes’ 501(c)3 and award-winning ‘Above The Line™’ leadership programs impacts the social, mental and physical growth of more than 50,000 youth annually through remedial curriculum, training camps, clinics and symposia. NFL executives have named the SoCal Coyotes organization America’s #1 Developmental Football Program™ for its national, scalable brands, community outreach programs, nine-year operational track record, verifiable data, youth curriculum, sales, public-private sector alliances, and measured results.

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