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The U.S. Soccer Foundation Announces the Innovate to Elevate Prize to Get More Girls in Underserved Communities Playing Soccer

Innovate to Elevate prizes to be awarded to trailblazers who increase opportunities for girls to play and create initiatives to redesign gender norms in sports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of its United for Girls initiative, the U.S. Soccer Foundation today launched its Innovate to Elevate Prize. The Foundation is looking for innovators, trailblazers, and change agents to develop and test new ways to engage girls and women from underserved communities in sports and to ensure that those experiences are positive.

“We created our United for Girls initiative as way to intentionally work with partners to engage more girls in soccer programs and to double the number of women leading them as coach-mentors,” said Sarah Pickens, Associate Vice President of Programs at the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “I’m proud of the success we have had so far, but I know that there are so many more organizations out there that can help us improve gender equity in youth sports. With these new ideas, we can make progress toward a more equitable and inclusive playing field for all.”

Applications for the prize opened on Monday in honor of International Day of the Girl. All applications must be received by November 20, 2021. Prizes, up to $5,000, will be announced in late December.

To be competitive, applicants will:

  • Demonstrate commitment to and deep knowledge about best practices in gender equity;
  • Present an innovative idea related to at least one of the six United for Girls strategies that will increase access to sport for girls in underserved communities and reach at least 500 girls in 2022, and;
  • Show the ability and commitment to providing aggregate participant and coach data from the innovation and stories about positive influence and/or change.

Additionally, preference will be given to organizations that include soccer in their portfolio of programming and can start implementing their innovation during the first half of 2022.

Launched in 2019, the Foundation’s United for Girls initiative aims to combat the severe dropout rate and lack of participation in young girls in sports. adidas is the founding partner of the initiative and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation is the presenting partner of the initiative. Together with a cohort of more than 20 organizations, the group of partners is working to engage 100,000 girls annually in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs, double the number of women who lead youth programs, and create 15 mini-pitches by 2023.

For more information, to review the full RFP, and to apply, please visit

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation; 202-872-6662