The U.S. Soccer Foundation has announced a $3 million gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund to launch a national campaign, It's Everyone's Game, aimed at expanding the reach of its afterschool soccer program and helping kids lead healthier, more productive lives.
With the help of Griffin's gift and support from the Hauptman family and the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District have committed to building fifty soccer play spaces in underserved Chicago neighborhoods over the next five years, while the foundation hopes to build a thousand mini-pitches in underserved communities across the country and reach a million children annually with afterschool programming by 2026.
Through its partnership with Adidas, USSF will provide participants with equipment and materials needed to succeed on and off the field. In addition, Target Corp. has pledged $6 million to create a hundred mini-pitches in communities across the country. Cities that have expressed interest in joining the program include Baltimore (MD), Columbus (OH), Hendersonville (TN), Houston (TX), Kansas City (MO), Louisville (KY), Miami (FL), Nashville (TN), Newark (NJ), Oklahoma City (OK), Orlando (FL), Philadelphia (PA), Reno (NV), Rochester (NY), San Bernadino (CA), Tucson (AZ), and Washington, D.C. New York recently opened the first ten of an expected fifty mini-pitches as part of a public-private partnership working to build and maintain fields in underserved areas.
"Our Soccer for Success program shows that soccer can be the difference between a child who thrives and a child who falls through the cracks," said U.S. Soccer Foundation president and CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. "Yet, far too many children across the country do not have access to soccer programming or the opportunity to engage with a coach who can help them develop critical life skills that support their development on and off the playing field. The premise of our work is simple: We train coach-mentors. We make sure there are fields to play on. And we support afterschool soccer programs in underserved communities that are offered free to participants. By eliminating barriers and creating opportunities, we help the kids who need us most to not only play soccer, but also to be healthier, more active, and more confident."