CHICAGO (Oct. 7, 2021) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named the Chicago Fire Football Club a finalist in the 22nd Annual Citizens Awards, a long-standing program that honors businesses for the impact they make in communities around the world. Chicago Fire FC, specifically through the Chicago Fire Foundation, was nominated in the category of Best Commitment to Education Program. This is only the second time in 22 years that a sports team has been named a finalist in this category, and the second consecutive nomination for the Chicago Fire Foundation.
To view a list of the finalists, click here.
More than 40% of public-school students in Chicago do not graduate high school, and nearly 70 students drop out of school every day. The Fire is looking to change these statistics through the Club’s innovative after-school soccer program, P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer), a 10-week program integrating soccer with social and emotional learning character skills to ultimately improve participants’ academic performance, while providing a safe and supportive environment to engage in soccer. P.L.A.Y.S. participants have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions and failing grades. There has also been a 50% drop in crime near program spaces, which is significant given that 60% of P.L.A.Y.S. schools were in the most high-risk neighborhoods in Chicago.
The P.L.A.Y.S. program serves 1,000 girls and boys across 40 Chicago Public Schools located primarily on the West and South sides, of which 98% are of color, 93% are from families classified as low-income, and 95% qualify for free and/or reduced lunch and live at, or below, the U.S. poverty level.
“It is truly an honor to once again be named as a finalist among such an exceptional list of organizations that are dedicated to making a change in their communities,” said Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz. “The Chicago Fire Football Club and the Foundation have always had a focus on the issues facing the city of Chicago and that begins at the youth level through education and sports. We are committed to using our platform in support of Chicagoans throughout the city via our P.L.A.Y.S. Program.”
This annual awards program recognizes the most innovative and impactful corporate citizenship initiatives raising the bar on social responsibility and accelerating momentum for a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future.
The winners of the 22nd Annual Citizens Awards will be announced during the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Conference: Business Solves on November 17-18, 2021. Learn more about the awards program and register to attend the event here.