to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world
The mission of America SCORES is to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world. Partnering with urban schools in under-resourced communities, America SCORES provides a free, high quality, team-based program that integrates soccer, poetry, and service learning. As an international and inclusive sport, soccer serves as a tool that encourages fitness, sportsmanship and leadership skills among diverse students. We then bring the teams of students into the classroom to discover their creative voices using poetry, a universal form of art. Those transformational experiences build students’ confidence to use their individual and collective energies to bring about change in their communities through service learning projects. America SCORES’ innovative approach improves students’ health, academic achievement, and civic engagement.
The America SCORES model was developed in 1994 in Washington DC by Julie Kennedy, a public school teacher concerned that her students, lacking constructive afterschool options, were at risk of gang activity and other dangers after class. Turning to her experience as an athlete, she began teaching her class soccer. In bad weather, she turned to her other passion – poetry – and began teaching her students how to write and perform poems. By adding a service learning curriculum based on a student-led neighborhood service project, Julie saw her students develop confidence and learned that they could affect change in their community. Schools across Washington DC took notice and the program expanded citywide.
In 1999, America SCORES grew to a national organization. Today, America SCORES operates in urban public school districts in 15 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, DC and West Contra Costa (CA). More than 500 public school teachers deliver our program in 150 urban public schools nationwide. America SCORES serves 5,000 students each year through our core program and reaches an additional 2,500 kids through community outreach activities, including inter-session programming.
To date, more than 44,000 girls and boys have benefitted from our unique program. Each year, America SCORES students write more than 20,000 original literary works and give 50,000 hours of volunteer service to their communities, get 10 times more exercise than the national average, publish their work and participate in spoken word events in front of audiences of hundreds.