Winners of the Innovate to Elevate Award Are In!

Today, we’re announcing the winners of our very first Innovate to Elevate Award—a group of organizations who will test innovative approaches for creating sports environments that are truly inclusive and show every child that there is a safe place for them in sport.

Why am I so excited about this?

Because at a very young age, I found my voice through sport. During recess, I was almost always the only girl on the field running with the boys. Eventually my teacher encouraged my parents to get me on a team and with that prompt, they were able to find a local soccer club and signed me up.

Shaina and daughter Harper
Because soccer was offered where I lived, and my parents had the means to afford it, I’ve had the opportunity to play the beautiful game all over the country. However, in all those experiences not only was I the only Black girl on the team, I also never had a coach that looked like me.

This led to several awkward moments – wading through cultural differences in a system that wasn’t built with me in mind. Sadly, I am far from alone in this experience as Black athletes at all levels of the game have had similar experiences.

We often see best practices for engaging girls in sport, but rarely do they speak to the experiences of girls that look like me, or those who are left out of the pay-to-play model because their families can’t afford it.

At the U.S. Soccer Foundation, it was important for us to change that. To address this deficit, we launched the United for Girls initiative alongside adidas and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation. Through this work, a cohort of trailblazing organizations have identified six key strategies to effectively engage girls and women from underserved communities in sports.

Six Innovate to Elevate Strategies

With these strategies in mind, we knew that there were other organizations out there who had great ideas about how to do this as well. And we knew that we wanted to elevate some of these ideas and test them out.

So, in October, we announced the Innovate to Elevate Award. Applicants pitched their innovative approaches to creating a sport environment that is inclusive of all genders, of all races and ethnicities, and of all socio-economic backgrounds.

And the winners are in! These 20 organizations will be working with our team at the U.S. Soccer Foundation to transform the sport landscape to achieve gender equity.

Can Play
Delaware Youth Soccer Association
Detroit Public Schools Foundation
Directed Initiatives for Youth
Elite Soccer Youth Development Academy, Inc.
Football for the World Foundation USA
Foundation for Interscholastic Youth Athletics
Girls Leading Girls
Gotham Girls FC
Inter Atlanta FC
New York Edge
Open Goal Project
Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance
Portland Community Football Club
PowerPlay NYC, Inc.
Soccer for the Future
Soccer Without Borders – Boston
Soccer Without Borders – Oakland
South End Soccer
Washington Youth Soccer Association

These organizations will also get access to cutting edge trainings that will build their capacity to create a positive team culture where every female identifying participant can flourish. Together, we will test their tactics and surface additional promising practices to effectively engage girls in under-resourced communities in sport. And we’ll take these practices and share them so that other organizations can implement them into their programs.

I look forward to the day where my experience is one of the past—where there are children of all races, genders, and backgrounds who see themselves in our sport—and who feel included.

And while we are on this path to making these new practices the norm in sport, I know we are already moving the needle to make a real difference in the lives of girls nationwide. Girls who look like me.

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OUR PARTNERS

adidas

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 adidas.com.

CHA

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 chacompanies.com

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 SportsMatter.org.

GEICO

GEICO

GEICO is committed to impacting local communities through Educational programs, Community Development projects and Equity & Inclusion initiatives. To date, GEICO has donated to 7,000+ charities and averaged between $6 and $8 million in annual giving over the last two decades. To learn more about GEICO’s commitment to the community please visit www.geico.com/about/in-the-community.

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives is a corporate social responsibility initiative from Genesis Motor North America. Expanding on the brand’s commitment to the highest standards of performance and its athletic elegance design identity, Genesis Gives supports nonprofit organizations with the goal of improving access to, and performance in, youth sports and STEAM education in under resourced communities.

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 Kwikgoal.com.

Miami Children's Trust

Miami Children's Trust

The Children’s Trust supports Soccer for Success programming in South Florida. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.

MLS WORKS

MLS WORKS

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

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 https://ussoccerfoundation.org/grants/ 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 scoresports.com.

Soccer.com

Soccer.com

Soccer.com, 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. Soccer.com embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit soccer.com.

 

 

 

Target

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.

Telemundo

Telemundo

The U.S. Soccer Foundation and Telemundo are joining efforts to advance soccer as a means for helping children in underserved communities reach their full potential, including supporting the Foundation’s signature Soccer for Success youth program, which provides free or low-cost soccer programs during and after school at more than 250 sites nationally. Telemundo will also serve as the first official and exclusive Spanish-language media partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. For more information visit https://www.telemundo.com/el-poder-en-ti.

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 https://www.worldwidetgi.com or contact Mike Squire at msquire@worldwidetgi.com / 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 www.worldsoccershop.com.

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