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U.S. Soccer Foundation Presents Awards to Trailblazers in Sports-Based Youth Development at Urban Soccer Symposium

Washington, D.C.  – The U.S. Soccer Foundation presented three awards at its 12th annual Urban Soccer Symposium to celebrate achievements of individuals and organizations in the sports-based youth development network. In its second year, the 2018 Urban Soccer Symposium Awards were presented in three categories: influence, innovation, and impact.

“We are proud to present the second annual Urban Soccer Symposium Awards to the Seattle Housing Authority’s Yesler Redevelopment, South Bronx United, and Mayor Bill de Blasio for their exceptional achievements in the sports-based youth development community,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We are delighted to acknowledge some of the best practices in the field and recognize meaningful change and innovation driven by community-based sports initiatives across the country.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio received the 2018 Influence Award, which was awarded to an individual holding public office who has leveraged his or her position to support, advocate for, and champion sports-based youth development efforts in underserved communities. Mayor de Blasio was recognized for his role in assisting the Foundation’s efforts to establish the first of many public-private partnerships, the New York City Soccer Initiative. The Initiative is comprised of a $3 million investment to build and maintain mini soccer pitches – 10 of which opened this past year – and to provide free programming for New York City school children with a focus on healthy lifestyles, active living, and mentorship. The program will serve 10,000 young New Yorkers over five years through after-school soccer and mentoring programs, such as soccer clinics, festivals, youth summits, and night leagues to promote safe, active, and connected communities.

Seattle Housing Authority’s Yesler Redevelopment received the 2018 Innovation Award for utilizing imaginative tactics and original programming to create positive social change in underserved communities. As part of its strategic policy, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) launched a Race and Social Justice Initiative to address effects of years of institutional racism, a problem many urban areas face. Its 360-degree thinking led SHA to develop native programming for residents of Yesler Terrace—the first housing development in the state and the first racially desegregated housing community in the city. It has also engaged in collaborative thinking with other program providers, like RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC, to provide a platform for soccer to be integrated into the existing and developing cultural framework of this iconic and historic downtown Seattle neighborhood. The jewel of Yesler Terrace is in locating all new residential buildings around a best-in-the-city park, the literal heart of the neighborhood, supporting programming for all residents, and creating a safe place for kids to play. One of the core values of this redevelopment has been social equity. Speaking to that value, and adjacent to conversation circles, public art, a massive play area, and spray park, RAVE Foundation built an “unrentable” small soccer field. In addition to the field, SHA funded art programs with an artist-in-residence for kids. In collaboration with RAVE, SHA developed the GOALS for Art Program where students worked with that artist and Sounders FC goalkeeper, Stefan Frei, over a series of weeks to add their design ideas to the goals that will ultimately be created and installed on their field at Yesler Terrace.

South Bronx United received the 2018 Impact Award for its work to use sport to enact measurable and sustainable positive change within an underserved community for at least five years. Founded in 2009, South Bronx United combines soccer with academic enrichment, college preparation, mentoring, health and wellness education, immigration legal services, and other forms of support to help more than 1,100 at-risk and immigrant youth and their families. In a community with the nation’s highest poverty rate and a 50 percent high school graduation rate, 100 percent of youth in the South Bronx United Academy program have graduated high school, and 94 percent have enrolled in college within the past six years.

The awards were presented during the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s 2018 Urban Soccer Symposium, the nation’s premier event where executive directors, mentors, and program administrators learn and exchange best practices in sports-based youth development to bolster impact in underserved communities.

Award nominees were identified through a nomination process.  In total, 21 nominations were submitted for the Innovation, Impact, and Influence Awards. The 2018 Urban Soccer Symposium Committee, comprised of leaders in the sports-based youth development movement, voted on the Innovation and Impact categories. The Foundation’s Government Relations team assisted the committee in identifying the winner of the Influence Award.


About the U.S. Soccer Foundation

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 at @ussoccerfndn and Facebook at


Media Contact:

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