Sounders FC today announced that the Seattle Housing Authority’s Yesler Redevelopment has been awarded the 2018 Urban Soccer Symposium Innovation Award from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the national model for sports-based youth development programs in underserved communities. SHA earned the award for utilizing an imaginative approach and original programming to create positive social change in underserved communities, including collaborative efforts with RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC to integrate soccer into the cultural framework of the historic downtown Seattle neighborhood.
“We are honored by this award and by our tremendous partnership with Seattle Sounders FC and RAVE Foundation,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of the Seattle Housing Authority. “The players and staff have infused the Yesler community with a new level of excitement. Their engagement with the youth and families embodies our vision for a vibrant new urban neighborhood filled with opportunities for positive connections that help to change lives.”
“We are so happy for our friends at Seattle Housing Authority,” said Chairman of RAVE Foundation's Board of Trustees Fred Mendoza. “They exemplify the collaborative and innovative thinking that is critical to support our kids in communities where soccer can be used as a vehicle to empower and inspire. They are the recipient of our first Small Field and have embraced our ‘Big Ideas’ as necessary and complementary to their social justice priorities.”
As part of its strategic policy, SHA launched a Race and Social Justice Initiative to address effects 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 public housing development in the state and the first racially integrated public housing community in the country.
In line with its own programming, SHA has engaged in collaborative thinking with RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC, integrating soccer into the neighborhood. This has included working with RAVE Foundation on RAVE’s ultimate goal to open full-sized small fields for free play in underserved communities throughout the Puget Sound region, of which the RAVE Field at Yesler Terrace Park – opening summer of 2018 – is set to be the first. Yesler Terrace Park has been developed in the heart of the neighborhood to support programming for all residents while creating a safe place for children to play. SHA, RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC are dedicated to the core value of social equity, and, speaking to that value, the RAVE Field at Yesler Terrace Park will be “unrentable,” guaranteeing the community it was built to serve retains ultimate ownership.
Additionally, SHA received a grant for art programs, with artists-in-residence for the Yesler community. In collaboration with RAVE Foundation, the GOALS for Art program was developed – where students worked with both a community artist and Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei over a series of weeks to add their design ideas to the goals that are being created and installed on the RAVE Field at Yesler Terrace Park.
These efforts earned SHA its award, which was presented during the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s 2018 Urban Soccer Symposium on Saturday, March 24. While SHA received the 2018 Innovation Award, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was presented the 2018 Influence Award, presented 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, and South Bronx United was awarded the 2018 Impact Award for its work using sport to enact measurable and sustainable positive change within an underserved community for at least five years.
“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.”
The Symposium serves as the nation’s premier event where executive directors, mentors and program administrations learn and exchange best practices in the use of soccer as a vehicle for youth development.