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SEATTLE, WASH. – Seattle Sounders FC’s charitable arm, RAVE Foundation, today announced that the Seattle Storm and Symetra Life Insurance Company have joined RAVE as partners in the foundation’s 26 Fields by 2026 campaign. Launched last month, 26 by 2026 is built upon the foundational principles of both RAVE and Sounders FC, including bringing play equity to youth in Washington and defending the right to play. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to build 26 fields by the year 2026 in historically marginalized communities in the state – with the target date of completion in time for FIFA World Cup 2026™ – while also investing in and around those fields that use soccer as a vehicle to support the health and well-being of youth.

“The RAVE Foundation board has been overwhelmed by the support of the 26 by 2026 initiative since its introduction in March,” said RAVE Executive Director Ashley Fosberg. “But the Seattle Storm and Symetra have gone above and beyond as partners in this long-term commitment. They share RAVE’s greater vision and understand how places to play truly nurture families and anchor communities. We are grateful for their aligned vision and their work to further diversity, equity and inclusion through their corporate and professional sports platforms.”

With today’s announcement, the Seattle Storm and Symetra unite with RAVE in these important goals, joining the project as partners and collaborators over the next five years. The three entities have committed to building two dual-purpose soccer and basketball courts together, as well as investing in free community programs and equipment giveaways to further support access to play in marginalized areas.

“We are proud to partner with RAVE Foundation and Symetra in the 26 Fields by 2026 campaign, an initiative with the potential of creating long-lasting impact in our community,” said Nate Silverman, Seattle Storm SVP of Corporate Partnerships and Social Responsibility. “By building new soccer pitches and basketball courts in historically marginalized communities, we hope to increase access to sports, create safe places to play and grow equitable opportunities for youth in Washington.”

The addition of these two fully funded dual-purpose courts through the help of the Storm and Symetra means that RAVE Foundation has now currently funded 18 of the 26 fields planned for the greater campaign. Final locations and timing for the two court projects is forthcoming, with official openings targeted for 2023 and 2025.

“Symetra is honored to collaborate with RAVE Foundation and the Seattle Storm on the 26 by 2026 initiative, and excited by the opportunity to help bring new playing fields and programming to communities across Washington. Equity and access lie at the heart of this campaign and this partnership and align beautifully with our commitment to diversity and to focusing on communities most in need of support,” said Sharmila Swenson, VP, Public Affairs & Social Impact at Symetra.

In addition to the two new dual courts, the Storm and Symetra are also aligning with RAVE Foundation in its vision for NewHolly, a culturally rich, diverse and thriving Seattle Housing Authority community located between Seattle’s Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley neighborhoods where RAVE is investing in two new turf soccer playfields this summer. The Storm and Symetra are funding the resurfacing of an existing half basketball court at NewHolly, immediately adjacent to where the new soccer fields are being built, ensuring that the community there has a robust selection of ways to play and stay active.

Today’s partnership announcement marks a continuation of the strong working relationship between Sounders FC, RAVE Foundation and the Seattle Storm, with support from Symetra. Recognizing shared beliefs between the organizations, especially relating to supporting youth and play equity in the region, the trio originally came together last year, collaborating on the wholesale renovation of an under-utilized court surface at Midway Park in Des Moines.

Transforming the cracked and unusable surface into a new multi-purpose recreation space featuring goals for futsal play and hoops for basketball, RAVE, the Storm and Symetra have been able to provide the Midway community – located in a green space desert – with a safe space for youth to gather and play. Since the court’s opening, the three entities have further offered basketball and soccer clinics, ball giveaways and adaptive sports clinics at the location, all in an effort to make a community effort that reaches beyond simply building a playspace.

The Storm and Symetra now joining in with RAVE to support the 26 Fields by 2026 campaign illustrates the deep commitment of these groups to empowering communities, especially youth, and removing barriers to healthy activity and play.

Sounders FC and the Storm are members of the King County Play Equity Coalition, which is aimed at bringing access to sports and recreation regardless of zip code, language or race. The King County Play Equity Coalition formed in direct response to results of a 2019 study by the University of Washington's Center for Leadership in Athletics, in partnership with King County Parks and The Aspen Institute, which found that less than 19 percent of young people in the region get the amount of physical activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Coalition is committed to implement the report's recommendations to remove barriers to physical activity for more kids throughout King County.

The fields in which RAVE invests are never rentable by outside groups – they are intended solely for the communities they inhabit. RAVE fields are small, informing small-sided soccer or pick-up play. Some feature a turf surface such as RAVE’s flagship field at Seattle’s Yesler Terrace Park or the fields being built at NewHolly, and many are hard surface courts. Together, these fields and courts serve as anchors for RAVE programs that foster wellness, learning and joy. To date, RAVE has built 10 fields around the cities of Burien, Seattle, SeaTac, Des Moines, Renton, and Tacoma, with additional openings scheduled for this year.

As previously mentioned, with the generous support from the Storm and Symetra to help fund the future pair of dual-purpose courts, RAVE currently has achieved full funding for 18 fields of its current goal of 26.

Those interested in helping RAVE Foundation reach its 26 by 2026 goal can do so by donating or volunteering.

ABOUT RAVE FOUNDATION

RAVE Foundation, the official charitable arm of Sounders FC, was founded in 2013 to serve the greater Puget Sound community. RAVE Foundation’s mission is to build small fields for free play and invest in programs that use soccer as a vehicle to inspire youth and strengthen communities. By building small fields, RAVE Foundation helps remove barriers to participation, providing a place for kids to play freely, be physically active and safe, and to be inclusive stakeholders in their communities.

RAVE Foundation opened its flagship small field at Yesler Terrace Park in the heart of Seattle in 2018, kicking off the foundation’s “RAVE Fields” program, which is dedicated to opening both mini-pitch futsal courts and small soccer fields throughout the region. Field locations are chosen in an effort to support underserved communities and to provide locations for free play, as the fields may not be rented by groups or teams and must remain open to the community at all times. Recently, RAVE Foundation has invested mini pitches at the old Roxhill Elementary in Seattle, Valley Ridge Park in SeaTac, and Beverly Park Elementary in Burien, with more in the works.

ABOUT SEATTLE STORM

The Seattle Storm is a four-time WNBA championship team that brings a premium professional basketball and entertainment experience to a fanbase rich in tradition and support. The organization leverages its community-building platforms to contribute to Puget Sound’s economic growth and enhance its citizens’ quality of life. The Storm actively expresses its embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion through its practice of fighting for social and racial justice across the country. This work, through the Force4Change initiative, includes amplifying Black leaders and encouraging investment in Black communities. In addition, with its focus on fitness and health, the Storm promotes local youth development in the areas of leadership and sports, with an emphasis on girls and women. For more, visit StormBasketball.com.

ABOUT SYMETRA

Symetra Life Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation, a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Washington. In business since 1957, Symetra provides employee benefits, annuities, and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and independent financial professionals and insurance producers. For more information, visit www.symetra.com.

Symetra and the Seattle Storm announced a 10-year partnership in April 2019. In addition to branding on the WNBA team’s jersey and ‘Official Life Insurer of the Seattle Storm’ designation, Symetra proudly partners with the Storm on impactful community programs.

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