Chicago Fire Foundation
Background: The Chicago Fire Foundation is committed to sports-based youth development. Violence is a recurring issue in the city of Chicago and surrounding communities. The Chicago Fire Foundation’s programs give kids the opportunity to be removed from a negative environment and become involved with something healthy for their minds and bodies. Since the program’s start in 1998, it has doubled in size and allowed for many kids to learn both soccer and life skills.
When playing soccer on the field, the Chicago Fire’s goal is to play hard and win. Off the field, its goal is to help the surrounding communities of Chicago and improve resident’s quality of life.
The P.L.A.Y.S acronym stands for participate, learn, achieve, youth soccer. Soccer is a different and new activity for the schools in the surrounding Chicago area. This program acts as a safe haven for kids and allows them the opportunity to enhance their academic performance while also developing key social and emotional skills.
The Passback Program allows people to drop off gently used soccer equipment which is then donated to youth soccer programs. To learn more, click: https://www.chicagofirefc.com/community/foundation/passback-info.
Kicks for Kids
Since 2006, non-profit organizations in the Chicagoland area have been helping their economically or otherwise challenged youth with Kicks for Kids. Through this program, Chicago Fire tickets are sold through these organizations and then distributed to kids.
MLS Community MVP
Chris Solomon first found his passion for sports-based youth development on his trip to Malawi, Africa where he built youth sports programs across less fortunate communities. Since then, Solomon has served as Program Manager/Community Ambassador for YESsoccer and ran 600 free clinics which equaled out to nearly 2,000 hours of free programs for over 30,000 participants.
Jennifer Marcello works with Special Olympics Illinois and represents the Chicago Fire as a contest finalist in the 2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP contest. Her presence has been crucial for the growth and expansion of the Chicago Fire Unified Soccer All-Star Team.
Rob Castaneda was a crucial part in lobbying organizations for a new turf soccer field to replace a once dangerous dirt field.
This program is the MLS league’s social responsibility platform. It seeks to enrich the lives of impoverished people across the United States and Canada. MLS WORKS provides national programs and legacy projects, charitable campaigns, and works to educate our youth, create healthy and sustainable communities and promote inclusion at all times.