(ATLANTA, GA) - Soccer in the Streets today announced it has been awarded a $24,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the national model for sports-based youth development programs in underserved communities. This grant is intended to fund the Station Soccer Club Program, an initiative to provide access to quality free youth programming utilizing mass transit systems. Soccer in the Streets was one of five organizations to receive a grant.
"Our Station Soccer Club Program is a new way to bring communities together from around the city through transit," said Soccer in the Streets' Executive Director, Phil Hill. "We are grateful to the U.S. Soccer Foundation for backing this unique vision."
In late 2016, thanks to a partnership with the Atlanta United Foundation and MARTA, Soccer in the Streets launched Station Soccer and its club program concept, an initiative that brings soccer to urban areas in a new way. It involves a network of mini soccer fields and program sites clustered inside or around transportation hubs. Children from underserved neighborhoods play at the station and use it as a way to connect with other communities across the city, uniting youth from different backgrounds and ethnicities though sports.
In a pursuance of sustainability, Soccer in the Streets also runs pay-to-play adult leagues at Station Soccer, providing a source for developmental youth coaching and generating funds for their free youth programming. Since its first youth program kicked off, Station Soccer has serviced over 1,000 kids, delivered over 60 sessions and hosted several community soccer engagements. Before Station Soccer, Soccer in the Streets was already providing more than 4,500 children with after school and community-based sports programs in 2016 alone.
This grant was awarded as part of the U.S. Soccer Foundation's annual Program Grants. Each year, the Foundation identifies one specific category or theme in the sports-based youth development world, and seeks to support organizations that are related to such categories. This Program Grant was awarded under the theme of 'Innovative and Non-Traditional Soccer Programming' to Soccer in the Streets.
In late spring, Soccer in the Streets was presented with the 2017 Urban Soccer Symposium Innovation Award, for imaginative tactics and original programming to create positive social change in underserved communities. 'Station Soccer', the first field in the world inside a metro station, played a center role in receiving this distinction.
"The U.S. Soccer Foundation is excited to support these grant recipients in their continued efforts to leverage the game of soccer for social change and create equal access to safe places to play for all communities," said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. "These grants will help introduce youth to the game of soccer and promote a culture of health in communities across the country."
Since its inception in 1994, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to non-profit organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.