Full Circle

Hi everyone, 

My name is Katelan Newman and I’m a rising senior at Middlebury College, majoring in Sociology. This summer, I spent two months interning at South Bronx United as a development intern. It was an incredible experience that I would like to share with you all. While I did a bunch of development work throughout the summer like writing postcards, securing donations for our Annual Benefit and brainstorming potential donor opportunities, I’d like to focus on the two most exciting parts of my internship. 

When I first joined the SBU team, I noticed that things went missing around the office pretty frequently. Though we had what seemed like an endless supply of great tools and resources available for the kids and office staff to use, we had very little deliberate organization. There were lots of boxes still packed up from the recent move, and there wasn’t much time for staff members to do their designated jobs and organize. I quickly gave myself the task of organizing various parts of the office. I started small, only organizing office supplies but eventually began thinking bigger. After my supervisor Caitie gave me the ok, I was in organization heaven. One area that would remain a primary focus for me was the “Locker Room” on the 5th floor. The locker room is home to a plethora of goods for both students and staff and is undoubtedly the most frequented area of the office. And as such, it gets pretty messy fairly quickly. I immediately scheduled a time to meet with our director of operations, Mario, who listened to my recommendation to invest in heavy-duty clear boxes. These boxes, while a simple solution, would save staff a lump sum of time searching through cardboard boxes for one or two items. As a non-profit with limited space, supplies, and funding, organization is key to ensuring that all resources are noted and easy to access. While it might seem boring to most people, organizing the office was one of the most satisfying things I did this summer.

During the second month of my internship, I chose to be a mentor for our Summer Scholars Program. I was gifted with the opportunity of mentoring the 7th and 8th graders in our program. Mentorship meant that I stayed with the students throughout their class periods and supported them in any way they needed to remain calm and focused in their classes. And that intrinsically meant that we’d have an opportunity to build connections with one another. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we had some rough days, but they were certainly outnumbered by the boundless moments of joy that were shared between myself and my mentees. Over the weeks, I’d learned each of their personalities and the dynamics that existed in the classroom. I appreciated the complexity of my students. While it didn’t make classroom management any easier, it was the driving force that pushed me to actively engage with them daily. We laughed, shed one or two tears, and probably did far too many plank challenges in-between classes. My kids were witty, devious—in that typical, pre-teen way—and absolutely brilliant. They’ve got big dreams and I can only hope that when they’re doubting their ability to achieve them, they’ll remember my voice in the back of their heads encouraging them to keep pushing those boundaries. 

To everyone that I crossed paths with during my internship, thank you for sharing your space with me. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for listening to what I had to say, and taking value in my voice. Not too long ago, I was just a little girl running around  Mullally park. I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming of for myself in those days, but I can guarantee this wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Life’s come full circle and I’m still trying to process it all, but just know that I’m really happy that you exist, SBU. 

P.S.- Special shoutout to Caitie and Matt for being the absolute best people to share this experience with.

Till next time, Katelan

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South Bronx United to honor Sunil Gulati and Courtney and Paul Levinsohn at its 10th Anniversary Benefit

Alumni Honoree Derrick Cordova and MC Kyle Martino at the 2018 SBU Annual Benefit

Bronx, NY— South Bronx United will host its 10th Anniversary Benefit on Thursday, November 7th, 2019 at the Museum of the City of New York. The organization will honor Sunil Gulati and Courtney and Paul Levinsohn for their support across industries in using sport as a tool for social change. The event will raise funds for the organization’s youth development programs that reach more than 1,200 young people and their families each year, combining soccer programming with academic enrichment, college support, mentoring, immigration legal services, and other support services.

Sunil Gulati has played an important role in the development of U.S. Soccer since the early 1980’s. He was elected U.S. Soccer President in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014. Mr. Gulati is a member of the board of directors for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and serves as one of three CONCACAF representatives on the FIFA Executive Committee. He played a lead role in bringing the 1994 and 2026 World Cups and the 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups to the United States. He is a highly regarded senior lecturer in the economics department at Columbia University. Gulati graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Bucknell University and earned his M.A. and M. Phil. in Economics at Columbia University.

For years, Courtney and Paul Levinsohn have been significant supporters of South Bronx United programs and its mission. Mrs. Levinsohn is a sport and performance psychology consultant who specializes in delivering mental skills training for teams and individuals. After receiving a master’s degree in sports psychology in 2003, she founded Growth Through Sport to help young athletes develop the confidence they need to excel. Since then she has expanded her practice to include teams and older athletes, working with those facing challenges in sports or who feel the game isn’t fun anymore. This year, Mrs. Levinsohn produced Coach, a documentary film that aims to show today’s children that it is possible to grow up in a world where it’s normal to see women in positions of authority in sports—and not just as athletes. 

Paul Levinsohn is the Co-Founder and Managing Principal of New York City Regional Center (NYCRC), a company that secures funding for real estate and infrastructure projects in New York City. Mr. Levinsohn has acquired and sold more than 200 commercial properties to public REITs and individuals. In 2002, he was appointed Chief Counsel to the Governor of New Jersey. Under this post, Mr. Levinsohn oversaw legal operations for the Governor’s Office. Today, Mr. Levinsohn is actively involved in the Duke Law School Wrongful Convictions Clinic and The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that provides financial support to more than 600 non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. In 2018, Mr. Levinsohn served as the co-chair for South Bronx United’s 7th Annual Benefit.

The 10th Anniversary Annual Benefit is the organization’s largest fundraising event raising about 15 percent of its annual budget. About 350 guests are expected to attend the Benefit in support of SBU’s mission to use soccer for social change. The event program features an annual update from the organization’s Executive Director, an alumni speaker, a video presentation, and words from the benefit honorees. Past honorees and special guests have included Spanish soccer legend Raul Gonzalez Blanco, former USA Men’s National Team Captain Claudio Reyna, New York City FC President Jon Patricof, the New York City Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Bitta Mostofi, and Men in Blazers host Roger Bennett. The evening also includes a live and silent auction, an open bar, buffet and hors d’oeuvres. There will also be exhibits throughout the museum that guests can visit, including “Activist NYC,” an exhibit exploring social activism in New York City from the 17th century to the present day.

Individuals and businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities can visit www.sbusupporters.org/benefit. Tickets will be available on the website beginning August 5th. 

About South Bronx United

Founded in 2009, South Bronx United is a 501c3 nonprofit youth development organization. The organization’s mission is to use soccer as a tool for social change. South Bronx United aims to help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond. South Bronx United strives to promote educational achievement, health and wellness, and character development through activities on and off the soccer field and to unite a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals.

For more information: Caitie Adams | caitie@southbronxunited.org | (718) 404-9281

Media contact: Joshua Guerra | joshua.guerra@southbronxunited.org

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The SBU Academy Class of 2019

South Bronx United would like to congratulate all its 2019 SBU Academy Graduates! They were recognized in a ceremony on June 12th at the Mott Haven Educational Campus. SBU recognized two students in particular, Alexis Vidal and Mohamed Kourouma, who had been in South Bronx United since 5th grade. Throughout the summer, each graduate will be recognized on instagram and Facebook.  Click on the links below to learn more about each of them.

Stephanie Acosta, Fordham University
Shirley AparicioUniversity of Rochester
Chelsea Bravo, Manhattan College
Denisse Calvario, St. Francis College
Aboubacar Camara, SUNY Polytechnic
Samantha Castelan, Medgar Evers College
Jonathan Ciriaco, Fordham University
Giselle Flores HuertaMercy College
Jacqueline Gonzalez, Lehman College
Melanie Huerta, Lehman College
Alhassane Jallow, Mercy College
Alhousseine Kallo, Boston College
Ousmane Konate, Mohawk Valley Community College
Mohamed Kourouma, University at Buffalo
Dayron Mejia, Canisius College
Jorsely Perez, Undecided
Boubacar Sarr, Bourough of Manhattan Community College
Deen Seybou, Farmingdale State College
Minkael Soumah, Kenyon College
Brisa Tapia Alvarez, College of Staten Island
Jhonny ThezeUtica College
Roberto Torralba-Bonilla, Utica College
Alexis Vidal Rios, Stony Brook University

Seventeen of these graduates received college scholarships from South Bronx United of at least $500, partially funded by the Play On Foundation and PlaySoccer2Give.

Additionally, two members of the Class of 2018 are heading off the college for the first time this fall. Andrea Bentoglio finished a post-graduate year at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania and will be attending SUNY New Paltz. Hans Mensah graduated this year and will be going to Morrisville State University.

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What I learned from my new team

This year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I have learned a lot not only mentally but physically. My name is Citlaly, I’m 13 years old, and I joined the Girls U-14 soccer team at South Bronx United.  My coach from my school team had wanted me to tryout for the SBU team for a year. I didn’t really take it into consideration until my second year of middle school. Eventually, I decided to go to see them practice after I was further encouraged by Andy and my coach, who was about to leave his position at the school. I wanted him to know that I took his opinion into consideration.

Even though I knew some of the girls on the SBU team, I was nervous because this was the first time I would see them at practice. I was nervous because I didn’t really know how they were. It was different from being with the girls from the soccer team in my school—I practically grew up with them. When I met the Coach Noelle of the SBU team, I was relieved. She was nice but strict. She was very skilled when it came to soccer, and she encouraged me to work my hardest. She seemed to see potential in me and that encouraged me even more. She pushed me to do things that I said I couldn’t do.  Coach Noelle always says,  “Don’t say you can’t do it, instead say you can do it.” I learned a lot from her not only in soccer, and there are some valuable lessons I will remember. For instance, she showed me how to be more responsible with time management, how it can affect me if I’m late. Now, I feel bad if I get to the games late because I let my team down.

Noelle made me feel more comfortable. I didn’t really feel like I belonged the first few weeks of practice—I barely talked to the girls in the first few days. After a while, I  started to feel comfortable enough to make conversation, and I started to get used to them. I didn’t really feel nervous anymore. There was a lot to learn about them. It was hard, especially because the girls from my school, they liked soccer, but my new teammates are so passionate and are willing to play in bad weather conditions. If it rained, it didn’t really matter to them it was just a little rain. Yeah, they didn’t like that it would be harder to practice, but they liked challenges.

I’ve had so many adventures with them. My favorite was when we went to city hall to see the ceremony honoring the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. We did have to sit in the sun for two hours, with just a little from Starbucks in our stomachs. Afterwards, though, we went to eat at Shake Shack! It was my first time trying any food from there.  After lunch, we walked around a bit, and played soccer in a park nearby.

Coming out of the season, I feel like I have more goals. My goals are to become a better soccer player not only for me but for my team too. I want to score goals and learn how to communicate better. I need to achieve this to make myself stronger. Joining this team has helped me to realize that I need to work harder to achieve what I want.

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South Bronx United Awarded Grant from U.S. Soccer Foundation to increase female participation in youth soccer

BRONX, NY – South Bronx United today announced it has been awarded a $17,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the national model for sports-based youth development programs in underserved communities. This grant is intended to fund the growth of girls soccer programming, with a focus on increasing engagement in the borough’s African-American and African immigrant communities. South Bronx United was one of five organizations to receive a grant.

“We are thrilled to be recipients of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Program Grant and its initiative to get more girls in the game,” said South Bronx United’s Executive Director Andrew So. “With the 2019 Women’s World Cup getting underway, there is no better time to highlight the lack of representation of women and girls of color in soccer and to invest in making a change. The grant will provide the resources to help us make inroads into underrepresented communities in New York’s most underserved neighborhoods.”

Founded in 2009, South Bronx United serves approximately 300 girls annually and 1,100 children and youth in all with programs both on the soccer field and in the classroom. In addition to recreational and competitive soccer programs, SBU offers academic enrichment, college prep, leadership development, health and wellness education, immigration legal services, and other individual and family supports.

This grant was awarded as part of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s annual Program Grants. This year, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Johnson & Johnson joined forces to fund grants under the category, Reaching Her Potential.

“Soccer is a powerful tool, not only to get young people active, but to teach important life skills that help them succeed on and off the pitch,” said Sarah Pickens, Associate Vice President of Programs at the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We’re excited that, in working with these grant recipients to address barriers that have excluded girls from the game in the past, we can make sure that more young females are encouraged to play soccer and can reap all the benefits the sport has to offer.”

“Johnson & Johnson is focused on providing girls with opportunities to grow into strong leaders on and off the pitch,” said Heather Horner, Marketing Manager at Johnson & Johnson. “As part of our Because She Can campaign to empower young women, we’re proud to partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to offer assistance to amazing organizations working to develop girls into leaders of the future through soccer.”

Since its inception in 1994, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to non-profit organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Media Contact:

Caitie Adams, Development Manager, South Bronx United, caitie@southbronxunited.org (718) 404-9281

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Racism on Your Local Youth Soccer Pitch

Youth shouldn’t need to face racism when they step on the soccer field, but it’s been part of the experience for many young athletes.

South Bronx United

(Photo Credit: Hakim Kabbaj)

by Andrew So, Executive Director

Spring is right around the corner, and for many kids and parents that means that soccer season is starting up again. Get ready for the smell of freshly cut grass or, if you live in a city, the cling of green turf shavings and black rubber pellets. Get ready for goal celebrations and heartbreaking losses. Get ready for superhuman parents and parents whose sideline antics make it desperately clear they are living vicariously through their children. Get ready for teenagers to again struggle with the balance of soccer, homework, studying, and more soccer. We hope that all this still leads to smiles on the field, at least most of the time. Soccer is a game, after all.

For the last ten years this has been my Spring — ever since I started South Bronx United, a nonprofit youth development organization that works with student-athletes, primarily immigrant youth and first-generation Americans, from the Bronx and Northern Manhattan both in the classroom and on the soccer field. The start of the season brings excitement for all of them. After a cold winter, few things are better than that first outdoor game or practice under the sun, when you can finally shed your layers and the winter’s doldrums. Of course, the new season brings stresses for kids, parents, coaches, and administrators alike, but most of them are par for the course — not enough time, too much laundry, impossible travel logistics, rising costs, how to convince a team of adolescents to just get along… There is one thing that is likely to come up at least once this season, for at least one of our teams from the South Bronx — one thing that I will never accept. Something that has absolutely no place in youth soccer, no place in any youth sport or activity.

Continue Reading on Medium

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SBU Awarded 2019 Community Grant by the FA Premier League’s International Development Fund

South Bronx United has been awarded a 2019 community program grant from the FA Premier League’s International Development Fund, a philanthropic fund developed in partnership with streetfootballworld. The grant, in the amount of £20,000, will be used to support South Bronx United’s college and career success initiatives for SBU Academy alumni.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the Premier League to help us combat in our Bronx community a nationwide problem facing low-income young men and women,” said Andrew So, South Bronx United’s Executive Director. “Among those who start college, very few ever earn a degree. Among all young adults, fewer are gaining access to careers that can lift them out of poverty. Like with so many other challenges, soccer can, in fact, play a role in addressing these inequities, not only globally but especially here in the South Bronx. We are excited that the Premier League also recognizes this.”

Alumni and Academy seniors in a roundtable discussion at the First Annual Alumni Career Networking Mixer.

Over the next year, South Bronx United will be investing more in providing the programs, services, and resources to assist its alumni in achieving college and career success. This includes hiring an alumni coordinator, increasing college counseling sessions to provide supports that prevent students from dropping out, expanding post-secondary and vocational training as options for non-college bound students, holding alumni workshops, and expanding on the SBU Coaching Corps Fellowship that offers a select group of alumni a stipend to gain practical experience and training as soccer coaches, referees, and mentors. In the past years, the organization has also started its first competitive alumni soccer team and held an Alumni Career Networking event that connected 73 young people with professionals in various career fields.

Established in 2017 in partnership with streetfootballworld, the FA Premier League International Development Fund supports collaborative projects between community organizations of English Premier League Clubs and community-based organizations that make up the streetfootballworld network members. The Fund also has selected individual projects led by network members in the areas of sports participation, education, and life skills development.  Since its founding in 2009, South Bronx United has demonstrated extensive experience in using soccer to expand opportunities and enrich the lives of young people. South Bronx United has been a streetfootballworld network member since 2016.

More information about streetfootballworld and the Premier League

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First Annual Alumni Career Networking Mixer

On January 10, 2019, 73 alumni and SBU Academy seniors and a diverse contingent of more than 30 professionals assembled for South Bronx United’s First Annual Alumni Career Networking Mixer. After welcoming remarks by alumnus Kafoumba Doumbia, professional attendees broke into panels representing the fields in which they work: business and marketing, communications and media, finance, health, law and criminal justice, public service, and technology. Throughout the evening, SBU alumni and seniors were able to rotate through the panels for roundtable discussions in which they could ask questions and get advice. Panelists were eager to share wide-ranging insight on everything from what to look for in an employer to finding work that you’re passionate about to how to meet the people that can open doors for professional development.

A tall stack of (obligatory) pizzas compelled everyone out of their roundtables and into the main auditorium for a lively networking mixer. As the evening wound down, alumni and seniors were able to sign up to be paired with professional mentors—it’s the first of several initiatives that SBU will develop over the next year to better support and engage with its alumni population.

Current alumni and Academy seniors who would like to sign up to be paired with a mentor, as well as any professionals who are interested in becoming mentors should send an email to Jessica Marroquin [jessica@southbronxunited.org] or Rob Boatti [rob@southbronxunited.org].

The event was graciously hosted by BlackRock. Pictures of the event can be seen on the South Bronx United Facebook page.

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SBU 8th Annual Benefit: Our most successful yet!

On November 8, 2018 at the Midtown Loft and Terrace, South Bronx United held its 8th Annual Benefit. More than 300 guests convened on the evening, raising $140,000, the largest figure ever from the organization’s fundraising event.

The night was hosted by Kyle Martino, one of the faces of NBC Sports’ English Premier League broadcasts, and whose own playing career brought him to the highest levels of US Soccer.

Martino was joined first by NYCFC’s Ronald Matarrita. As an ambassador to Laureus Sport for Good USA Foundation, the Costa Rican midfielder, has been a strong advocate for the development through sport of youth in immigrant communities. In September, he visited South Bronx United’s soccer programming to provide tips on life and on the game.

Bitta Mostofi is the Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs at the New York City Mayor’s Office. She discussed with Kyle Martino her role in the development of major City initiatives such as IDNYC and ActionNYC, the City’s free and confidential immigrant legal services program. Mostafi spoke urgently about the importance of supporting organizations like South Bronx United, and of nurturing a compassionate response to the plights of immigrants and refugees.

The organization’s 2018 Alumni Honoree was Derrick Cordova, who is a sophomore at the College of Mount Saint Vincent where he is majoring in Sports Management. He competes for the men’s soccer team and leads the team in scoring in 2018 with nine goals.

Derrick joined South Bronx United in 2015. At the age of 15, he left La Ceiba Honduras without any family on a treacherous 2,000-mile trek to the United States. He followed the path of thousands of other Central American youth, who were fleeing gangs and violence to seek a better opportunity for themselves and their families. Last year, ESPN Deportes and ESPN SportsCenter aired a segment titled “El Camino,” covering Derrick’s journey. The segment was played before Derrick joined Martino on stage to voice a moving statement about the importance of South Bronx United’s programming in his ability to overcome the challenges in adjusting to life in New York City. Derrick recently gained legal permanent residency.

Throughout the evening, guests were able to participate in a silent auction and purchase tickets for a live raffle drawing. In his remarks, Executive Director Andrew So emphasized the need for guests to be champions of South Bronx United and its causes in order to continue to increase the organization’s capacity to serve the communities that are most vulnerable in our city today. Executive Board Member Jon Lee followed up with a rousing call to action.

 

It was the generous support of guests who believe in South Bronx United’s mission that made the night so successful. More than 90% of funds raised will go right back into the organization’s programs, supporting the community, immigrant, and first-generation youth in the classroom and on the soccer field, helping them on the path to college and professional life.

The night’s sponsors included Barclays, Bregal Partners, Dos Toros Taqueria, InterFysio, and Two Sigma.

Food and drink donations were generously made by Ample Hills Creamery, Barking Irons, Bronx Baking Co., Bronx Brewery, Brooklyn Gin, Dos Toros Taqueria, Double Dutch Espresso, Elevate Catering, Giffard, Heineken, Insomnia Cookies, Prizefight Irish Whiskey, Reyka Vodka, Shake Shack, Thomas Henry, Wódka.

To see more photos from South Bronx United’s 8th Annual Benefit, visit the SBU Supporters Club Facebook page. You can learn more about the SBU Supporters Club at sbusupporters.org.

For more information on South Bronx United and how you can support our mission, please visit www.southbronxunited.org, or call (718) 404-9281.

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SBU Alum Nancy Ordaz Travels to Peru with Woza Soccer

This summer, South Bronx United alum Nancy Ordaz was awarded a full scholarship by Woza Soccer for the organization’s service trip to Peru. The immersive program is an opportunity for students from across the United States to build relationships with each other while serving and playing soccer to inspire action and connections within local communities. Nancy was recently asked to speak at a fundraising event for Woza Soccer about her experiences in the program. Below is the text of the speech she prepared for that event:

First and foremost, thank you for the opportunity to be here today and for the wonderful opportunity that was provided to me by WOZA.

When my soccer club, South Bronx United, first talked to me about WOZA, I was a bit skeptical. You see, I am a timid person, and I was worried about meeting new people. Not only that, I had never traveled outside the country or been on a plane before. It took some convincing, but I finally saw the value of this fantastic opportunity.

I knew I had made the right decision the second I met my travel group and group leaders. I have to say, this opportunity changed my life. My trip to Peru helped me meet new people from all over the country who share my passion for soccer. Not only did I get to hang out with some great people, but I also got to see the world in a whole new way. Before going to Peru, I was not aware or maybe didn’t realize that people outside of the Bronx have it a lot more difficult than I do. Their struggles are beyond anything I could ever imagine, and yet, they wake up every morning with a smile on their face. Their smiles taught me how to appreciate my life and all of the opportunities available to me. I also learned that Peruvian people are great soccer players and that soccer truly unites the world.

One of my favorite memories about Peru was traveling to Machu Pichu, but there was one thing I did not like. The stairs! We climbed and climbed, and I have to admit, I even contemplated quitting at one point. Thankfully, I didn’t let my exhaustion get the best of me. We made it to the top, and it was magical. I now use Machu Pichu as a metaphor in my everyday life. I remember that just like in Machu Pichu, life is hard and there are many steps before you reach the top. Sometimes, you’re going to want to quit, but if you stick it out and keep climbing, magic awaits you at the top.

Once again, thank you for having me and thank you for picking me to travel to Peru and be a part of this once in a lifetime experience.

Nancy was awarded a South Bronx United Scholarship to attend the College of Staten Island, where she is currently a freshman. We are so proud to see her continue to be a champion of the values that South Bronx United stands for.

 

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