CHICAGO (Feb. 27, 2017) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Monday at its season kick-off luncheon that the Chicago Fire Foundation’s P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer) program will expand to 20 total public schools across Chicago in honor of the club’s historic 20th MLS season. P.L.A.Y.S. is the signature program for the Fire Foundation, which was awarded the 2016 Beyond Sport Team of the Year Award as well as the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Team of the Year Award, in recognition of the group’s outstanding charitable programming efforts.
“In celebration of our 20th season, we are so grateful to Andrew Hauptman and Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and the Hauptman Family Foundation for making a special gift helping the expansion of PLAYS to 20 schools," said Chicago Fire COO Atul Khosla. “It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to deepen the reach of the initiative to serve more of Chicago’s at-risk youth and we’re excited to see the future impact that the P.L.A.Y.S Program has in the community.”
Created in 2013 in partnership with World Sport Chicago, P.L.A.Y.S. integrates soccer with social and emotional learning (SEL) to not only help kids learn and enjoy soccer, but also strengthen academic performance. In 2016, the ten-week program served more than 500 third through fifth grade boys and girls at 16 schools throughout the city. Research shows that children with a high degree of emotional control, goal setting and attainment, cooperation, respect, communication and teamwork are able to more effectively handle adversity and perform well in school. Since its creation, P.L.A.Y.S. has organized more than 115,000 hours of soccer for underserved youth in Chicagoland.
“Since our inception in 1998, the Chicago Fire Foundation has been dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of underserved youth in the Chicagoland area,” said Chicago Fire Foundation executive director Jessica Yavitz. “We’re proud of all that the Foundation has accomplished over the years and are excited to see it continue to serve as a philanthropic leader for our league and community.”
Students participating in the Spring program are provided up to five out of school time hours of practice each week, in addition to three game days. Students also receive the opportunity to attend a Fire home game. The 20 participating schools are:
Bradwell School of Excellence
Casals School of Excellence
Curtis School of Excellence
Deneen School of Excellence
Fraizer Prepatory Academy
Frederick Funston Elementary School
Gresham School of Excellence
Herzl School of Excellence
John Spry Community School
Marquette School of Excellence
McNair School of Excellence
Piccolo School of Excellence
Richard Edwards Elementary
Rosario Castellanos Elementary
Sherman School of Excellence
Tarkington School of Excellence
William H. Seward Communications Art Academy
Additional information on the P.L.A.Y.S. program can be found here.