CHICAGO (June 28, 2017) -- The Chicago Fire Soccer Club was today named the 2017 Corporate Citizen of the Year by The Executives' Club of Chicago, in recognition of the club's outstanding charitable programming efforts. The organization has also recently been named the 2016 Beyond Sport Team of the Year as well as the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Team of the Year.
The Executives' Club is Chicago's premier membership organization and business forum. For more than one hundred years, The Club has been a valued resource for Chicago's business leaders - connecting members, providing opportunities for strategic relationship development, access to intellectual exchange and world class speakers, and enhanced exposure to the broader business community. The Corporate Citizen of the Year is awarded in recognition for an individual or corporation's contributions to the Chicagoland community in areas such as the environment, education, veterans initiatives, workforce development or governance.
"We are extremely humbled to be recognized for this prestigious award," said Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz. "As a club we believe it is extremely important to give back to the community and positively impact the lives of youth."
At the heart of the club's philanthropic efforts is the Chicago Fire Foundation's P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer) program, an after-school initiative offered in 20 public schools across Chicago in honor of the club's historic 20th MLS season. 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 2017, the ten-week program served nearly 500 third through fifth grade boys and girls at 20 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. Students 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.
Additional information on the P.L.A.Y.S. program can be found here.