September 28, 2016 – Local organizers and community partners in the successful Soccer for Success® program in the City of Buffalo will have an opportunity to showcase their efforts and transformational results today during a visit by officials from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency headquartered in Washington, D.C. Soccer for Success is a free, after-school program for young participants from kindergarten to 8th grade, offered by the Independent Health Foundation, in collaboration with the Buffalo Soccer Club and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.
Lois Nembhard, acting director, Megan Blanco, senior legislative assistant, and other representatives of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the CNCS, will visit The Belle Center at 104 Maryland Street in Buffalo beginning at 2:30 p.m. to learn more about how their funding is having a positive and measurable impact on inner-city youth.
Members of the Independent Health Foundation team and the Buffalo Soccer Club will provide a tour of The Belle Center Soccer for Success site and provide an overview of the program, discussing the direct impact the SIF support has had in the community. Site-visit attendees, including Timothy M. Kennedy, New York State Senator, 63rd district, will then witness the evidence-based program in action, learning more about the curriculum, and speaking with coach-mentors about their role in using soccer as a vehicle to improve health and social outcomes among children in underserved areas of the city.
“The goal of our visit is to meet with key stakeholders, subgrantees and funders who are helping our organization implement innovative, compelling and evidence-based solutions to improve the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the U.S.,” said Nembhard.
“We are tremendously proud and excited to host our out-of-town SIF visitors and provide an up-close look at the positive results Soccer for Success is having in the lives of our participants and the health of our city and entire community,” said Carrie Meyer, executive director of the Independent Health Foundation.
"As a father of three young children, I see firsthand the vital role sports play in shaping and transforming the lives of our youth. Not only do they promote a positive perspective on staying healthy through physical activity, but they build a foundation for character development, teamwork, inclusion and hard work. Ensuring that all of our city's kids, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, have access to these opportunities is critical to their development, and I applaud the Independent Health Foundation, Buffalo Soccer Club and United Way of Buffalo and Erie County for their continued commitment to our youth," said Senator Kennedy.
More than 3,000 youngsters from the City of Buffalo and more than 300 coaches/mentors have participated in Soccer for Success since it was first launched here in May 2012. Originally hosted at 15 sites, the program has since expanded to 26 sites, including Buffalo public and charters schools, community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Durant Park, a once-abandoned field in South Buffalo.
“Program participants – many of whom are categorized as having high health risks – have significantly improved their aerobic capacity, are making healthier choices in deciding what to eat or drink, are trying harder in school, and have reduced their Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile through their participation,” said Meyer.
As a result of the program’s positive outcomes, the Independent Health Foundation has been awarded two grants totaling $511,000 through an SIF sub-grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation to continue offering Soccer for Success through the middle of 2017.
About the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
About The Social Innovation Fund (SIF)
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a powerful approach to transforming lives and communities that positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—mobilizing private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of results. Since its inception in 2009, the SIF and its private-sector partners have invested almost a billion dollars in compelling community solutions through its SIF Classic and SIF Pay For Success (PFS) programs. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov/programs/social-innovation-fund.
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’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org.