Recap: 8th Annual Urban Soccer Symposium

The annual Urban Soccer Symposium is always a much-anticipated event for the Foundation staff – not only is it a chance for us to reconnect with many of our Soccer for Success program operators and colleagues in the sports for youth development field, it’s a chance for us to learn from others who are using soccer for social change and to be a part of the evolving conversation around urban soccer and the growth of the game. This year was no different, and after four days of sharing big ideas and working together as creative problem solvers, I think it’s safe to say that the 8th annual Urban Soccer Symposium was one of the most collaborative and inspiring Symposium to date.

The Symposium kicked off bright and early Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, where we met with Members of Congress to discuss the importance and impact of youth sports, mentoring organizations and afterschool programs, like Soccer for Success. Capitol Hill Day gave us a unique opportunity to visit with policy makers and showcase the great results that organizations across the nation are achieving through innovative soccer programming. More importantly, it once again reminded us that the love of the game is widespread (and growing!) throughout our country; Republican or Democrat, East Coast or West Coast, we all share the love of the beautiful game.

JT Dorsey Foundation and Chester Upland on Capitol Hill

On Friday, we shifted gears (and locations) and jumped right into our schedule of featured speakers and interactive breakout sessions. Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM! helped get the party started with a great keynote address that got us thinking about the importance of play and investing in collaborative partnerships to better our communities and improve the field of youth development. This theme was emphasized throughout the afternoon breakout sessions as we discussed topics like “Teaching Character through Soccer,” “Working with Your Local State Association,” and “Community Asset Mapping.” The day culminated with a fantastic presentation from Dr. Ruby Payne, who gave us new insight into understanding poverty and the challenges faced by youth in underserved communities.

We kept Friday’s momentum and discussion rolling into Saturday with a Q&A with Matthew Spacie, Founder and Executive Chairman of Magic Bus. Using his own organization as an example, Matthew talked about organizational scaling and sustainable growth as it relates to our programming models. Matthew’s discussion led right into our “Sustainability Hackathon,” which asked us all to think creatively about the collective challenges we face as leaders in the field of sports-based youth development and to seek new solutions or opportunities for sustained growth and improvement. As nonprofit organizations and program administrators, we so often look at lack of funding, limited capacity, etc. as barriers to growth and success, but the hackathon taught us to look at these challenges in a new light and to take proactive, results-oriented steps toward our desired outcomes. For this reason, I think it was one of the most valuable sessions at this year’s Symposium.

The morning’s hackathon was followed by another series of engaging small-group discussions, including sessions led by Up2Us, the Indiana Soccer Foundation, and the JT Dorsey Foundation. Throughout the afternoon, we discussed topics like “Redesigning Sports to Amplify Impact” and “The Keys to Successful Grant Writing.” I even had the opportunity try out some new tricks in the Futbolinho and Skills Challenges session with the New York Red Bulls! Saturday was also a busy day for our Urban Soccer Coaching Diploma group, which spent the majority of the day on a nearby soccer field learning new techniques and strategies for coaching in compact and urban spaces.

On Sunday, the fourth and final day of the Symposium, we were treated to an amazing Q&A with former U.S. Women’s National Team members Briana Scurry and Michelle Akers. Led by Diana Cutaia of Coaching Peace, Briana and Michelle talked about their experiences playing the game and breaking racial and gender barriers in soccer. Briana and Michelle were quick to credit their youth coaches and mentors with being the defining factor in their long term success, both on and off the playing field – a theme that resonated strongly with all of us in the audience. As youth program leaders and administrators, we don’t always see the full impact of our work, but Briana really hit the nail on the head in saying, “When you’re not sure what you’re doing matters, trust me – it matters.” For many of us in the room, this statement was a great reminder that our work is not just important, it’s often vital.

Briana Scurry and Michelle Akers – Former USWNT members

Sunday wrapped up with a final afternoon of breakout sessions, followed by closing remarks from our very own Ed Foster-Simenon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. As Ed stated, we are so grateful to be a part of a community dedicated to improving the lives of youth and while the path is not always clear, we have a unique opportunity to be trailblazers in our field. It takes each and everyone one of us to create change, but together we have the collective knowledge and power to make it happen.

It’s been a whirlwind few days here in DC, but we’re feeling motivated and inspired by all of those who attended and the ideas and stories that they shared with us throughout the Symposium. We can’t wait put these new ideas into action, and as always, we’re looking forwarding to welcoming everyone back again next spring for another fantastic Urban Soccer Symposium!

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Soccer Shots, and our partners 4point4NSCAA, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their support of the 8th annual Urban Soccer Symposium!


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  • adidas


    adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit

  • APT


    APT (Advanced Polymer Technology), the Foundation’s Partner for Acrylic Coating Products, is a global leader in high performance sports surfaces. APT provides people around the world with safe, reliable, performance enhancing surfaces. APT’s Laykold Masters acrylic surfacing system will be the official surface of an estimated 500 mini-pitches. For more information on APT, please visit

  • CHA


    CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit

  • The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit

  • Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson, the Foundation’s grant partner, is dedicated to supporting the next generation of female leaders by providing greater access to girls’ youth soccer programming in underserved communities nationwide. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson strives to create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. For more information, please visit

  • Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit



    MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.

  • Musco


    As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit to learn more about the grant program and application process.

  • SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit

  •, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit

  • Target


    Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

  • TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

    For more information on our services, please visit or contact Mike Squire at / Phone: 312-371-5852.

  • World Soccer Shop

    World Soccer Shop

    Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit


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