Seattle Sounders FC’s charitable arm, RAVE Foundation, along with partner the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Tacoma Public Schools today announced the construction of a new mini pitch at Boze Elementary in Tacoma, Washington. In addition to the new playspace – which will be located at the front of the school and available for free use by the community – RAVE Foundation is bringing its “First Kicks” early learning program to Boze this fall, and the Tacoma Public Schools Indian Education Program is donating new books to the Boze library, all written by Native American authors and centered around Native American themes.
Sounders FC’s USL Championship affiliate, Tacoma Defiance, is also partnering with RAVE Foundation at Boze, with a commitment to assist with future soccer clinics and other student-focused programs going forward.
“We are thrilled to have the first RAVE mini pitch on a Tacoma Public Schools site underway,” said RAVE Foundation Executive Director Ashley Fosberg. “And, since RAVE mini pitches anchor programs that support whole, healthy children, we are just as excited to launch responsive, student-centered programming at Boze. We thank the Puyallup Tribe of Indians for making this long-term investment possible.”
The Boze mini pitch marks the ninth mini pitch driven by RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC’s commitment to Defend the Right to Play, focusing efforts on youth in communities of color and in historically marginalized communities in the Puget Sound region – one of the core tenets of Sounders FC’s Social Justice Framework. RAVE Foundation mini pitches are unrentable, meaning they remain open and available at all times to the communities they were built to serve, preserving play opportunities for all children.
This mini pitch also marks the first playspace built in partnership with the Puyallup Tribe. Sounders FC and the Puyallup Tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino announced a new multi-year partnership earlier in 2021, including logo placement on the club’s jersey sleeves and a strong community-based component. The Boze mini pitch and the implementation of RAVE Foundation’s “First Kicks” programming come as part of the Puyallup Tribe’s partnership with the Rave Green.
“We’re proud to see our partner Sounders FC giving back to the community,” said Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud. “All children need places to play, and we’re so happy to support projects that make a heartfelt difference in their lives.”
Residing within the Tacoma Public School District, Boze Elementary serves approximately 450 students from diverse backgrounds, with 80 percent of the student body qualified for the free or reduced lunch program and 25 percent identified as English Language Learners. Currently, only 24 percent of the low-income students at Boze enter kindergarten proficient in all six areas of development, compared to the district average of 55 percent. Leadership at Boze has set goals to increase developmental preparedness for its youngest students, and RAVE Foundation – with assistance from the Puyallup Tribe – is supporting this effort by bringing its “First Kicks” early learning program to Boze. This special curriculum is aimed to help young learners move their bodies while developing cognitive skills, all using a soccer ball.
“One of the characteristics that makes Tacoma so special is the passion of community partners, like Sounders FC, Tacoma Defiance, RAVE Foundation and The Puyallup Tribe of Indians, who care deeply about making life better for our students,” said Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools Joshua Garcia. “This investment in the Boze community will pay huge dividends by building connections to play and school that are necessary for student health and success.”
“It gives my heart great joy to see that the collaborative efforts of Tacoma Public Schools and community partners have created a safe and healthy space for children to play and engage outdoors,” said Boze Elementary Principal Arron Neville Wilkins. “Tacoma children will benefit from this mini pitch for years to come in full knowledge that champions of the Tacoma Eastside have established a space that creates the perfect union between schools and the community.”
In addition to the construction of Boze’s new mini pitch and the implementation of the early learning program, Tacoma Public Schools and its Indian Education Program – one of five local nonprofit beneficiaries of Sounders FC’s Jimi Hendrix Kit jersey sales – are honoring this special collaboration by donating new books to the Boze library. All of the books donated are written by Native American authors and center around Native American themes.
The entire Boze campus underwent reconstruction in the 2019/2020 school year, with its unveiling in fall of last year postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school is now preparing to open, with a special site set aside for the RAVE Foundation mini pitch, which is scheduled to be completed by late July. A celebratory grand opening event is scheduled for Wednesday, September 8, the first day of school. The opening will include an all-school “welcome back” assembly featuring Sounders FC, a showcase of RAVE Foundation’s “First Kicks” program, the unveiling of the mini pitch and an all-school soccer ball giveaway.
Media are invited to attend the opening event, with additional details to be shared closer to the date.