Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $2,000,000)
For more than 30 years, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a 501(C)3 national nonprofit, has been using the transformative power of soccer as a vehicle for delivering evidence-based programming to instill hope, foster well-being, and help youth from under-resourced communities achieve their fullest potential. Leveraging the fun and appeal of sports, evidence-based best practices, and the learning benefits that flow to youth who are in motion, the Foundation's Soccer for Success (SfS) program is an early intervention, sports-based youth development (SBYD) mentoring program. SfS is proven to promote protective factors, mitigate risk factors, increase confidence in and about the future, and improve health and overall wellbeing for youth. Over the past 13 years, SfS has reached more than 500,000 youth across 23 states, propelling them down a path toward success.
The Foundation's SfS Multistate Mentoring Project will activate 1,245 mentors through 18 partners in 15 states (MA, NY, NJ, IL, TX, MO, CA, WA, PA, OR, NC, NE, DC, OH, MI) to reach 18,675 at-risk and high-risk youth, ages 6 to 13, who face multiple access barriers and risk factors for juvenile delinquency, victimization, and justice system involvement. Youth will engage in 24 weeks of SBYD mentoring across two seasons in an academic year. Coach-Mentors will meet with their mentoring groups at least three times per week for 75 to 90-minute sessions. During each session, Coach-Mentors will lead participants through structured, engaging, youth-centered activities that combine the benefits of mentorship and physical activity, and make soccer 's implicit life lessons explicit, through a newly enhanced social emotional learning curriculum. By participating in the program, youth find a unique outlet where they can forge quality relationships, build empathy, learn to manage emotions, increase confidence in themselves and their future, avoid delinquent behaviors, and learn to navigate the world successfully.
The program maintains a maximum of a 15:1 child to mentor ratio, which helps to close the mentor gap, and promotes the positive role coaches can play in the lives of youth. Through extensive training, Coach-Mentors are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to be thoughtful about, intentional in, and prepared for their role in helping youth to develop holistically. In addition to the enhanced SEL curriculum and expanded program reach, funding will support the launch and use of a new Community Engagement Toolkit, which offers partner a framework for through which they can define, develop, and/or strengthen their community engagement strategies in alignment with best-practices and model programs.