Building Leaders and Scholars Through Soccer

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Building Leaders and Scholars Through Soccer

Bronx, United StatesBronx, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

South Bronx United (SBU) leverages the power of soccer to help youth, and particularly young men from immigrant families, become leaders and scholars. SBU engages youth through their passion for the sport and then provides educational, mentoring, and support services to help them achieve success.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

NYC's black and Latino young men are in need of support networks, role models, and activities that provide positive influences. Youth often turn away from school and to the streets because they don't feel valued or successful. The challenge is to find ways (1) to engage black and Latino young men and particularly those most at-risk, (2) to provide positives influences that make them feel valued, and (3) to teach concrete academic, social, and emotional so that youth have the tools to achieve success.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

South Bronx United (SBU) attracts community youth by appealing to their interests: soccer. With a growing immigrant community from African, Latino, and Caribbean backgrounds, thousands of black and Latino youth bring a passion for soccer. They have the opportunity to participate on recreational or competitive travel soccer teams. In addition to leveraging the natural bonding that occurs on athletic teams, SBU staff and volunteers provide personalized attention and a caring support network to make youth feel valued and keep coming back. Then, most importantly, SBU programs teach the academic, social, and emotional skills to help youth succeed. Together, these components will help transform the lives of hundreds of young men.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Typically, Bryan skipped one day of school each week. He often felt lost in school. No one in his family had attended college. Bryan's family had immigrated to the U.S. when he was young. He was told that he might not be eligible for college and that it would be too expensive anyways. The soccer field was one place where he felt at home. He found SBU playing after school one day and soon he had joined a team. Suddenly, he was around peers and coaches who share his interests but talked about school and college frequently. He began attending the SBU After School Tutoring Program, sitting with a volunteer tutor twice a week to learn material he hadn't understood in class. Furthermore, SBU staff began helping him and his parents to gain new immigration status through a program called the Dream Act. With SBU, Bryan had the chance to visit colleges around the city and began to discover that college might really be an option for him. His school had gone on college trips before, but he was never previously eligible to attend because of his low attendance. Since joining SBU, Bryan is now on track to not only graduate high school but to be the first in his family to attend college.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Soccer has been used for social change across the globe. Within NYC, a few of organizations use the sport with the stated goal of serving vulnerable populations, although no others work exclusively within the South Bronx, statistically the nation's poorest congressional district, with 49% of children living under the poverty line. Also, none of these agencies have developed educational and social support services to the extent that SBU has already done. Other organizations engage youth through other sports, but nothing has the potential to reach the immigrant community like soccer.
About You
South Bronx United
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

South Bronx United

Borough(s) where you are creating or plan on creating impact


Organization Country

, NY, Bronx, Bronx County

Country where your solution is creating social impact

, NY, Bronx, Bronx County

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you or the person who came up with your proposed solution to get started and/or to see the potential for it to succeed.

As a teacher leading after school soccer groups at a local middle school, it became clear that a team atmosphere provided tremendous opportunities for youth to learn and develop. On the last day of the after school season, two students came up and asked me, "What are we going to do after school now? We would come here every day if I could!" It was evident that soccer provided the perfect platform for these young men part of a growing immigrant population that led to many youth who were passionate about soccer but disconnected from typical out of school activities. The next year South Bronx United was born out of the idea that community youth like these needed a engaging program to connect to and keep them off the streets.

Impact: What is the impact of your solution to date? Also describe the projected future impact. (If your solution is an idea you can just describe projected future impact.)

In 2012, SBU served 595 boys and girls, 74 percent of whom are black or Latino males. Every high school senior in the SBU youth development and travel soccer program graduated high school. 93 percent matriculated in college. 98 percent of students were promoted to the next grade. 90 percent of participants stayed in the program, that requires a typical commitment of 6-12 hours per week. Through stronger programming and increased services provided, SBU anticipates having an even deeper impact on every youth it serves--such that youth are better prepared for college so that they can all earn a 4 year degree. Increased resources and capacity will allow SBU to broaden the impact to a greater number of youth.

Full Impact Potential: How do you plan on spreading your solution moving forward? (Please consider spread within New York City or beyond, policy reform, how you might get others to replicate/adopt your solution or other mechanisms)

SBU's model, or components of its programs, can be adopted across the city, nation, and even the world. SBU is already in the final stages of joining StreetFootballWorld, an international network of organizations that "use soccer as a tool to empower disadvantaged young people by engaging private and public partners to create social change." This platform would give us the opportunity to share our practices with, as well as learn from, organizations across the globe. A few individuals and organizations, from NYC and beyond, have already reached out to us in hopes of learning about starting their own ventures. With increased resources, we may be able to formalize a process for mentoring others or facilitating potential replication.

Tell us about your partnerships. If your solution is an idea tell us about who you would partner or plan on partnering with in order to make your solution a success.

SBU believes in the value of partnering to strengthen programs and services. Organizations such as the Inwood House provide supplementary programs. BronxWorks and Hostos Community College are examples of those who provide space and support. SBU works with New York Cares and others to build capacity in administration, volunteer management and recruitment, and program evaluation. SBU is also part of several community coalitions.