River Park partners with Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and Angel City Sports


The school’s Instagram account posted these images to announce the River Park’s two new partnerships.

Lily Lee

The school announced its first two partnerships with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) and Angel City Sports for River Park Project through its Instagram account in July.

Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg ’89 said these partnerships are agreements allowing the organizations to use the facility regularly for their existing programs and to build and operate new programs.

“These partnerships benefit Harvard-Westlake because they will allow us to live out our mission of ‘purpose beyond ourselves,’” Engelberg said. “They benefit the community by allowing community-based organizations to use the River Park campus when it is not in use by HW students.”

Engelberg said FTBMI will be working with the school to install educational panels and monuments at River Park and to run educational programs highlighting indigenous life in the Valley, while Angel City Sports will run a number of its adaptive sports programs there.

“[The partnership with FTBMI] is about an understanding that life in Los Angeles grew up along the LA River and that Harvard-Westlake enjoys a unique opportunity as an educational institution that now owns land along that River to help tell the story of the people who first lived there,” Engelberg said.

Tribal President of FTBMI Rudy Ortega Jr. said the school reached out to the tribe while attempting to acquire the golf course.

“It is native land throughout the entire San Fernando Valley,” Ortega said. “What brings promise is that the school is willing to acknowledge that existence and to see how a relationship can be.”

Ortega said this partnership created a working relationship between the school and the tribe.

“It is a change from the past where a lot of entities [did not give] thought of the people who once occupied this land, [and did not include the tribe’s] voice and imprint into the development of what would be taking place,” Ortega said.

Associate Director of Angel City Sports Camille Mahlknecht said the River Park campus will be known as ‘the Valley Home of Angel City Sports’ hosting numerous adaptive sports programs including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and sitting volleyball.

“Creating the River Park will be incredible for Harvard-Westlake students, but it will also create a healthier, happier and more inclusive environment for all,” Maklknecht said. “In addition to creating a more healthy and inclusive society together, an additional benefit will be educating Harvard-Westlake students to be more forward-thinking and innovative to better accommodate the 15% plus of individuals living with a physical disability.”

Athlete Zoe Shin ’23 said she plays tennis four times a week at River Park during the school’s tennis season, spending at least two hours a day on the campus. She said she is eager to learn more about these partnerships.

“I personally had never heard of either of these organizations prior to [the school] announcing the partnerships, but I am now very interested in their missions and purposes.” Shin said, “The school’s partnerships will foster more student involvement.”

Engelberg said the school is planning additional partnerships for the River Park.

“Harvard-Westlake is deeply committed to making sure that the broader community is able to enjoy and find value in the River Park,” Engelberg said. “The relationships with Angel City Sports and the [FTBMI] are just two of what we expect will be seven or eight major community partnerships that we will announce over the coming months. What Harvard-Westlake is doing is unique and substantial.”