Making a Difference, One New Soccer Player at a Time

Author: Anna-Lesa Calvert, Program Director of Buffalo Soccer Club

“Coach Tex, my mom is going to be so proud of me!”

These are the moments that, as Program Director for a youth development program, I live for. For me, there’s nothing better than a child beaming with pride because his good behavior warranted him the opportunity to play soccer with me for a couple of hours and I’m so excited that I’m about to have similar experiences in the coming year.

In November 2011 the U.S. Soccer Foundation issued a Request for Proposal for organizations throughout the country to apply for their Soccer For Success grant program. While I knew that Buffalo Soccer Club (BSC) would be able to successfully implement a program like Soccer for Success, the grant required large amounts of data collection and measurement and a dollar-for-dollar grant match. So, I also knew that in order to submit a successful grant application and bring all of the opportunities involved in Soccer for Success to the children of Buffalo, we would need to partner with other trusted non-profit organizations in the WNY community.

With that in mind, BSC leadership approached the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County to see if they were willing to collaborate with us on the grant. After seeing the value of the Soccer for Success program, the United Way agreed and we began to move forward in the grant writing process. We determined that BSC would be in charge of running and implementing the program and the United Way would help with the administration and data measurements. But, we were still looking for our dollar-for-dollar match partner.

It was good fortune that we coincidentally learned that the Independent Health Foundation was also planning to apply for the same Soccer For Success grant. BSC and the United Way reached out to the Foundation and our three organizations agreed to work together to make our grant application as strong as possible to benefit the students of the Buffalo Public School system. In late February our organizations learned that our application was one of only 13 in the country, and the only one in New York State, to earn one of these prestigious $300,000.00 Social Innovation Fund sub-grants.

Soccer for Success Grant Partners

Members of the team from the United Way, the Independent Health Foundation, and Algonquin Sports for Kids pose with Otis Barker, Deputy Commissioner of Community Services for the City of Buffalo, and children from PS54 at the press conference announcing the grant award on May 2, 2012.

And so, earlier this week I participated in BSC’s first major press conference at Buffalo PS54, one of the schools we’ll be running the programming from, and met the excited young man who told me how proud his mom was going to be when she learns of his participation in the Soccer for Success program. At the end of the day, this boy and other students like him are the reason Buffalo Soccer Club exists. I know that by providing even one child with such a positive experience through the opportunity to play sports and learn important life skills, we’re making a difference. And the Soccer for Success grant will make it possible for us to provide this same experience to even more children; helping them become strong, productive members of our community.

If you’d like to learn more about Buffalo Soccer Club and our programming feel free to check out the following:

Set to Give the Boot to Childhood Obesity; Buffalo News, May 3, 2012
Buffalo Soccer Club NYSWYSA Club of the Month
; New York State West Youth Soccer Association; February 2012
Laying the Soil
; Buffalo.com, July 12, 2011
BSC Earns National Grant
; Details a previous grant win from the U.S. Soccer Foundation

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