BUFFALO, N.Y. (May 2, 2012) – Students at Public School 54 Dr. George Blackman School of Excellence in Buffalo on Wednesday showed off soccer drills they’ll do as part of the national Soccer for Success program being implemented for approximately 1,000 students in 10 Buffalo elementary schools this fall.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation recently awarded a $300,000 Social Innovation Fund Sub-Grant to the Independent Health Foundation to support the implementation of Soccer for Success, the Foundation’s free, after-school, sports-based youth development program that uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity and provides nutrition education and mentorship to children in at-risk communities.
The Independent Health Foundation announced the new program at a press event with the students, professional soccer player and Amherst native Kendell McFayden, and partner organizations United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Buffalo Soccer Club, Buffalo Public Schools and city officials.
In 2012, the Soccer for Success program will expand to serve 13 cities and over 12,000 children, as a result of the award the U.S. Soccer Foundation received from the Social Innovation Fund. The Independent Health Foundation was one of the 13 organizations in the United States and the only one in New York state to receive this sub-grant.
“The U.S. Soccer Foundation is proud to receive an award from the Social Innovation Fund to expand the Soccer for Success national footprint,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president & CEO. “We believe that Soccer for Success is an innovative program that can make a positive impact on youth. We are happy to assist organizations that are committed to improving the well-being of children in at-risk communities using soccer.”
The program will be integrated into the Independent Health Foundation’s Fitness for Kids Challenge program, which is a health and wellness initiative offered to elementary school-aged children throughout Western New York and aims to bend the increasing trend of Type 2 diabetes and obesity in youth by encouraging them to engage in fitness activities and make healthy food choices.
“The Independent Health Foundation is grateful to the U.S. Soccer Foundation for the confidence it is showing in awarding this $300,000 grant for the Soccer for Success program,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health. “This program has a proven track record of positive outcomes in other areas of the country and will be one more viable tool we can use to help combat the rise of childhood obesity in Western New York. Integrating the Soccer for Success program into our already successful Fitness for Kids Challenge affords us the opportunity to impact more students with the hope they will learn healthy fitness and nutrition habits for life, which will translate into a healthier community.”
“I applaud the U.S. Soccer Foundation for its commitment to Buffalo and our city’s fight against childhood obesity,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “By adding the sport of soccer to the Independent Health Foundation’s Fitness for Kids Challenge, the U.S. Soccer Foundation is helping to further improve the health of Buffalo children. As Mayor, I also want to thank the Independent Health Foundation for its continued investment and outstanding dedication to improve the overall quality of health in our community.”
“The Soccer for Success program is an exciting initiative that matches the physical activity and nutrition goals of the Buffalo Public Schools Wellness Policy,” said Will Keresztes, Ed.D., associate superintendent for educational services, Buffalo Public Schools. “Independent Health Foundation is one of our strongest partners who believe, as we do, that public education must support the whole child.”
The Buffalo Soccer Club will oversee programming aspects of the grant within the schools.
“Buffalo Soccer Club is excited to collaborate with the Independent Health Foundation and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County to bring such an influential program to the Buffalo community,” Tom Garigen, executive director, Algonquin Sports/Buffalo Soccer Club. “Sports can play an integral role in a child’s development when they are used as a tool to teach important life skills. Buffalo Soccer Club looks forward to implementing the Soccer for Success program and its proven curriculum to students in the Buffalo Public Schools.”
United Way of Buffalo and Erie County will measure and evaluate the program and provide volunteer staffing for the after-school component.
"United Way is pleased to be a part of the Soccer for Success initiative,” said Michael Weiner, president & CEO, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. “We are working with great partners in Independent Health Foundation and Buffalo Soccer Club to promote healthy lifestyles, and grow constructive after-school options for kids in the City of Buffalo. This is consistent with United Way's focus on improving Education and Health in our community.”
In addition to PS 54 Dr. George Blackman, other participating schools include: PS 27 Hillery Park Elementary, PS 18 Community School of Academic Excellence, PS 80 Highgate Heights, PS 91 Build Academy, PS 30 Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute, PS 30 Frank A. Sedita Academy, PS 93 Southside Elementary, Enterprise Charter School and Westminster Community Charter School.
In August 2011, the U.S. Soccer Foundation received a grant from the prestigious 2011 Social Innovation Fund, on behalf of the Corporation for National and Community Service, to support programs that promote healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity rates for children in urban, underserved communities. The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Major Charitable Arm of Soccer in the United States, was one of five intermediaries to receive this award.
The Social Innovation Fund requires that each federal dollar granted be matched by the intermediaries and again by the organizations selected to receive a sub-grant. As such, Independent Health will match the grant awarded. Sub-Grantees will begin implementing Soccer for Success in Fall/Winter 2012.
2012 Social Innovation Fund Sub-Grantees
Boys and Girls Club of Camden County (Camden, NJ)
Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County (Trenton, NJ)
Brotherhood Crusade (Los Angeles, CA)
Colorado Fusion Soccer Club (Denver, CO)
DC Scores (Washington, DC)
El Monte Community Building Initiative (CBI) (El Monte, CA)
Houston Parks & Recreation Department (Houston, TX)
Independent Health Foundation (Buffalo, NY)
Think Detroit Police Athletic League (Detroit, MI)
Washington Youth Soccer Association (Seattle, WA)
Widener University (Chester, PA)
YMCA of Greater Dayton (Dayton, OH)
About the Independent Health Foundation
Established in 1992, the Independent Health Foundation works to improve the health and well being of Western New York residents through awareness, prevention, education and other programs focused on community health priorities. For more information on the Foundation’s activities, visit www.independenthealth.com/foundation.
About the U.S. Soccer Foundation
The U.S. Soccer Foundation is the Major Charitable Arm of Soccer in the United States. Established in 1994, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has invested more than $57 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Soccer Foundation supports programs and field building projects that provide underserved youth in urban communities with opportunities that promote positive behavior, healthy lifestyles, self-confidence and positive alternatives to drugs, crime and other at-risk behaviors.