Summary

Launched
2022
Estimated duration
4 Years
Estimated total value
$50,000,000.00
Regions
Northern America
Locations
United States
Partners
4ATX Foundation, A. James Clark & Alice B. Clark Foundation, adidas AG, Agile Cold Storage, Black Players for Change, Black Women's Players Collective Mini-Pitch Initiative, Carlos Zaffirini, City of Poughkeepsie, City of Taylor Parks and Recreation, Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, LEGO Group, Los Angeles Football Club, Major League Soccer, Musco Sports Lighting, LLC, New York City Soccer Initiative, New York Red Bulls, NYC/NJ World Cup Host Committee, Paul Arriola, St. David's Foundation, St. Louis City Soccer Club, St. Louis City Soccer Club

Creating Safe Places to Play in Underserved Communities

Summary

The U.S. Soccer Foundation committed in 2022 to doubling the number of pitches installed in underserved communities across the United States by 2026 – amounting to at least 1,000 underserved communities having safe places to play. By building safe places for youth, families, and communities to gather, engage, and be active, mini pitches play an instrumental role in rebuilding the connective tissue that brings a sense of security and leads to health equity.

Approach

The U.S. Soccer Foundation commits to doubling the number of mini-pitches installed in underserved communities across the United States by 2026, amounting to 500 mini-pitches and 1,000+ underserved neighborhoods having safe places to play. The timing of this commitment is tied to the 2026 World Cup coming to North America. The lead up and follow on to the World Cup presents a once in a generation opportunity to grow the game of soccer across the United States and to use soccer as a vehicle for strengthening communities and transforming the lives of youth from underserved neighborhoods.

By transforming abandoned courts and vacant lots into soccer spaces for kids, The U.S Soccer Foundation will increase community access to safe and healthy living by working with community partners, landowners, and funders to identify spaces within underserved communities of mutual interest to ensure that sports-based youth development programs can use these spaces for free and that they are open to the public.

Once a space is secured, The U.S. Soccer Foundation will partner with Musco Lighting to install their mini pitch model that includes lighting, lockable storage, ADA-compliant access gates and benches for community use, and a 10-year warranty. After installation, community and funding partners are engaged to develop a fun-filled opening celebration for the community. Along with the partnership with Musco Lighting, The U.S. Soccer foundation has additional partners who have committed funding to support 97 of the 500 mini pitches needing to be built to support our commitment.

This commitment is built on the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s long track record of impact. in 500+ underserved neighborhoods across the U.S. The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mini-pitch community impact reports indicate that: 1) 98% of users say people in their community are more active; 2) 98% say the community feels safer; 3) 97% say the mini-pitch is accessible to all; and 4) 93% say the mini-pitch serves as a community hub. Further, community partners report that after a mini pitch is installed: 1) five times more soccer is played at sites; 2) three additional hours of daily play is made possible by mini-pitch lighting; and 3) and average of four hours of free daily programming runs on the pitches.

This commitment will provide access to safe play spaces to underserved communities and seeks to improve the health and well-being of youth throughout the U.S.

Action Plan

The U.S Soccer Foundation estimates about 115 mini pitches will be installed annually between September 2022 and December 2026. Based on signed commitments, The U.S. Soccer Foundation will establish a quarterly reporting system that details the number of new pitches committed for that quarter, installation schedule for that quarter, and opening celebration schedule for that quarter. Additionally, reporting data for external use will include overall progress towards the commitment, annual survey data about use, and periodic stories about impact.

Each specific mini-pitch project must always proceed on its own schedule – so that the local community is not forced to meet deadlines that would jeopardize their projects. Some projects are completed within 3-4 months of initiating our site reviews, while others can take approximately one year based on a variety of factors (local approval processes, weather, or scheduling conflicts) . In practicality, the actual process to install a mini-pitch once the other factors are in place is 2-4 weeks. The Foundation always provides such schedules to its partners to track each project’s process as we seek to work collaboratively to ensure all goals are met.

Year 1 (2022) : 115 new pitches built

Year 2 (2023) : 115 new pitches built [230 total]

Year 3 (2024) : 115 new pitches built [345 total]

Year 4 (2025) : 115 new pitches built [460 total]

Year 5 (2026) : 115 new pitches built [40 total]

Background

Founded in 1994, the mission of the U.S. Soccer Foundation is to provide underserved communities with access to innovative play spaces and evidence -based programs that instill hope, foster well-being, and help youth achieve their fullest potential. Recognizing the sport’s powerful potential to improve the health and well-being of youth throughout the U.S

we use soccer as a vehicle for social change. Inequities across the physical environment, social environment, education, housing and employment have profound effects on marginalized communities across the country. Children who grow up in underserved communities face distinct challenges in achieving health and wellbeing, including less access to safe places to play, sporting and health programming, or positive mentors. According to the 2021 State of Obesity Report, Black and Latinx youth have disproportionately higher rates of obesity than their Asian and white peers. The State of Obesity Report indicated that obesity prevalence for Asian youth was 8.7 percent, Black youth 24.2 percent, Latino youth 25.6 percent, and white youth 16.1 percent. These disparities can be partially attributed to less opportunity for physical activity and activity spaces. Children in neighborhoods without safe places to play have a 20-45% greater risk of becoming overweight, and such play spaces are more likely to be unavailable in communities of color as compared with predominantly white neighborhoods. Seventy percent of predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods lack any type of recreational facilities as compared to 38% of predominantly white neighborhoods. Further, 77% of kids living in households that earn less than $25,000 do not participate in sports. Only 35% of Black and 34% of Hispanic kids play sports on a regular basis.

Progress Update

In 2022, the U.S. Soccer Foundation celebrated the completion of its 500th mini-pitch project. Following
this major milestone, the organization joined the Clinton Global Initiative and committed to doubling this number of completed mini-pitch projects in underserved communities, committing to completing at least 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026.

Mini-pitch progress has continued, and as of April 14, 2023, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has completed 598 mini-pitch projects, with 76 additional projects currently underway or planned for completion by the end of
2023. Funding is secured to create 69 more mini-pitch projects in future years. New notable mini-pitch partnerships are briefly described below.

The Foundation, Target, the City of Poughkeepsie, and Dutchess County partnered up with USMNT star, Tyler Adams to bring two mini-pitches to Poughkeepsie, NY in October 2022.

Also in October 2022, Black Players for Change (BPC) , Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) ,
adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced an extension of their mini-pitch
partnership to create 10 more mini-pitches by the end of 2023. These ten mini-pitches will be installed in
the Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Miami, and Portland, OR markets. These communities were selected
by members of BPC and BWPC as areas of significance for the players to create more opportunities for
children of color—especially Black children—to learn and play the game.

In April 2023, the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced that Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth C. Griffin
donated $5 million to fund the development of 50 new mini-pitches in Miami-Dade County by 2026. The commitment officially launched the Miami-Dade County Soccer Initiative, a $10 million campaign that will dramatically increase opportunities for children living in under-resourced communities across the county to play and benefit from soccer.

Partnership Opportunities

We are seeking funders to support the scale of mini-pitch installation in underserved communities in the United States. Funds can be leveraged for pitches in specific communities, to serve as a matching program, and/or to support mini-pitch expansion writ large. We are open to campaign-style investments or highly targeted investments. Branding and recognition opportunities are available. We are also open to partnerships with public officials and other NGO partners interested in scaling safe places to play in the United States

The U.S. Soccer Foundation would like to offer others the opportunity to partner to achieve the goals of creating 500 safe places to play across the United States. Once funding for a mini-pitch is secured, the Foundation will serve as the implementation partner for bringing mini-pitches to underserved communities. Specifically, the Foundation will source the sites, work with community landowners on matters of usage, insurance, and permitting, and work with Musco Lighting on installation. The Foundation will also work with funding partners to develop an opening celebration activation and media plan for the mini pitch opening and/or groundbreaking ceremony.

NOTE: This Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is made, implemented, and tracked by the partners listed. CGI is a program dedicated forging new partnerships, providing technical support, and elevating compelling models with potential to scale. CGI does not directly fund or implement these projects.