For its award-winning community efforts, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club has been invited to take part in Beyond Sport Mexico, a first-time international gathering hosted by Beyond Sport in Mexico City.
Beyond Sport is a global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sport to create positive social change across the world. The event takes place from Nov. 15-17, and will strive over three days to help develop best practices among both local and international organizations to leverage the commodity of sport to create social good within Mexico.
The Fire will be represented by Jessica Yavitz, the Executive Director of the Chicago Fire Foundation and Vice President of the club's Community Relations department. Yavitz is among a roster of speakers that includes fellow industry leaders Melanie LeGrande (Vice President, Social Responsibility, Major League Baseball), Beatriz Ramos (Marketing & Sponsorship Director, Tigres F.C.), Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (Collegiate Basketball Record Holder & Human Rights Advocate), and Arturo Olive ( Director General, NFL Mexico).
Through the Chicago Fire Foundation, the Fire has been able to routinely give back to the community by leveraging club resources and expertise in the area of soccer to provide sports-based youth development and direct-service programs to Chicagoland’s underserved communities.
These efforts culminate in the club's P.L.A.Y.S. Program (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer), which looks to enhance the academic performance and development of key social and emotional (SEL) skills of elementary school students through a sports based curriculum.
"We’ll be highlighting these initiatives and how we’ve been able to positively impact the Chicago community in an effort to help other sports organizations see the benefit and how they can use their clubs to do the same,” Yavitz said. "Our club is honored as a past winner to be recognized and to be able to share best practices with other clubs around the world as we look to showcase how professional sports can affect social change.”
For their efforts, the Fire were named the Beyond Sport Team of the Year in 2016 for their community service work, winning the honor after being nominated alongside Arsenal FC, Detroit Pistons, FC Barcelona, and the San Francisco Giants.
The Chicago Fire Foundation’s extensive programming initiatives also have garnered local praise from the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who throughout MLS All-Star week last summer observed firsthand the impact of programs like P.L.A.Y.S.
“(The Chicago Fire Soccer Club) are in our schools, they are with our kids, they give back, they give back to a city that is not their home, but they know that, as players in that city, they have a responsibility to make another generation whole,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during MLS All-Star events in August. "To the coach, to the team, to the culture of the Chicago Fire, we’re a better city because of what you do.”