The Chicago Fire Foundation, the charitable arm of Chicago Fire FC, has launched its third annual fundraiser: RAISE for P.L.A.Y.S. The fundraiser will run through the month of April, including highlighting the program when the Fire host FC Dallas on Saturday, April 2, at Soldier Field.
The signature program of the Fire Foundation, P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program is helping to change the trajectory of underserved youth in Chicago through innovative and enriching sports-based programming. Recognizing two major voids within the Chicago community, P.L.A.Y.S. was created to address the lack of after-school programming and the need to improve academic performance in Chicago Public Schools. Through a soccer- and SEL-based curriculum, program participants engage in five out-of-school hours per week over 10 weeks and participate in three game days. To date, it has generated more than 250,000 hours of soccer and coached over 1,000 youth. In addition, the program continues to grow as it now has expanded into 50 schools in 2022. That number is up from 40 schools in 2019 and eight schools in its inaugural year of 2013.
RAISE for P.L.A.Y.S. was created to celebrate the Chicago community and raise awareness and resources to fuel the Foundation’s sports-based youth and direct-service programs in Chicago’s most under-resourced communities. As part of the fundraiser throughout the month of April, the Fire will be hosting a 50/50 raffle to support the P.L.A.Y.S. Program, with tickets available here. The 50/50 raffle will feature a guaranteed jackpot of $20,000, marking one of the largest in Club history. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Fire Foundation’s award-winning P.L.A.Y.S. Program.
“As the Club celebrates its 25th season, we continue to strive to provide safer places for the community to play soccer, help improve academic outcomes and instill an active, healthy lifestyle,” said Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz. “Since the P.L.A.Y.S. Program inception in 2013, we have been able to deepen our reach to serve more of Chicago’s underserved communities and make a positive impact on the lives of youth in this city.”
The Fire and the Foundation teamed up with By the Hand Club for Kids, Grace and Peace Revive Center, and Intentional Sports to break ground on the first-of-its-kind professional-level facility for sports, education and wellness in August 2021. The forthcoming 10-acre campus in North Austin will become the permanent home for its community outreach programs, which includes the P.L.A.Y.S. Program. Through the work of the Fire Foundation, the Club will offer more than 20 hours per week of free soccer programming for the community.
Editor’s Note: The Chicago Fire Foundation was a Make It Better Foundation 2021 Education Philanthropy Award winner. To learn more about the Foundation’s Philanthropy Awards, visit their website.