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Monday, September 12, 2016

DC SCORES works: Here are numbers to show why

Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

The fall season is a week old. Across the District, 2,220 kids at 60 sites have a place to go after the day's final school bell.

A place to have fun. A place to feel safe. A place to make friends. A place to get exercise. A place to be comfortable expressing themselves. And more.

We who are around DC SCORES every day know this is important. We know from the hundreds of stories we hear from families and community members about how the program has changed kids' lives. But not everyone knows this, which is where numbers can be helpful.

Scroll down for a collection of images that demonstrate the impact of DC SCORES. Numbers -- from the 2015-16 DC SCORES year -- are taken from pre- and post-season fitness tests, as well as participant, coach and parent surveys.

You can also visit www.DCSCORESimpact.org to scroll our latest annual report.










Visit www.DCSCORESimpact.org to scroll DC SCORES' most recent annual report. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fall 2016 DC SCORES kicks off today!

And we're back!

Today marks the beginning of DC SCORES' 23rd fall season. Across Washington, DC, in neighborhoods marked by poverty and a lack of resources, DC SCORES leaders new and old -- see our list of 60 sites -- are building tight-knit, supportive communities for District kids.

See below for all the numbers and dates, and please visit www.DCSCORES.org to get involved in any way. We look forward to you being a part of our team this season!


Visit www.DCSCORESimpact.org to scroll our most recent annual report.

Click HERE to read and watch any or all of the Alumni Stories we have documented, posts that demonstrate the profound difference DC SCORES makes in kids' lives from elementary school through to college and beyond. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Win-win: D.C. United hosts fundraiser and clinic for SCORES

Written by Tony Francavilla
Major Gifts Officer

Our partnership with D.C. United is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Last Thursday, a group of DC SCORES poet-athletes, along with 25 other 7-12 year-old D.C. United fans were treated to a special evening soccer clinic with United Academy players and coaches, and the event's stars, United players Lamar Neagle and Kofi Opare.

Clinic attendees went through a series of footwork and agility drills with coaches, followed by small-sided scrimmages with Neagle and Opare. After the soccer came autographs and pizza, and every kid walked away with tickets to the D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union game the following weekend. The event also raised about $2,500 for DC SCORES, and the poet-athletes were able to attend free of charge thanks to a generous sponsorship from our longtime partner Clark Construction.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening and another opportunity to boast about the best community partnership in Major League Soccer.

Be sure to follow both DC SCORES and D.C. United on social media to catch future clinics and special opportunities to support soccer in the District!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

DC SCORES alumni cherish giving back as camp counselors

Written by Kelsi Moran
Communications Intern

There are many reasons why kids love going to summer camp; it’s fun, your friends are there, you get to participate in activities you love. But what about the people that make the magic happen? The DC SCORES camp counselors play a large role in the camper experience and they become role models for many kids.

This was evident every day at Truesdell’s five-week soccer & arts camp that wrapped up last week, with several DC SCORES alumni now in high school and college mentoring the youth through DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

“I think one of the best parts of camp for me is building friendships with the campers, and being able to talk to them when they need advice,” said Oscar Argueta, 18, an SYEP counselor and DC SCORES alumnus.

Through SYEP, adolescents and adults ages 14-24 are placed in various productive work environments, including DC SCORES, with the intention of providing youth with work experience and keeping them busy. During the long summer months, students are more prone to boredom and are more at risk of unhealthy decision making and learning loss. SYEP successfully combats this, especially for SCORES alumni actively engaged every day at camp.

“I grew up in a rough neighborhood, so working for DC SCORES helps me to get involved with extracurricular activities rather than activities outside of school that could be bad,” said DC SCORES alumnae Ingrid Melendez, 18.

Melendez, like many of the counselors, has done it for multiple years. She’s now a rising sophomore at Trinity Washington University, and has been an SYEP worker for DC SCORES since she started high school. Her love for the kids and desire to stay busy during the summer is what motivates her to continue coming back.

“The first year I was a counselor I said it would be the only summer I do it, but the kids asked me if I was gonna do it next summer and I just couldn't not come back for them,” Melendez said.

When campers are asked to talk about their favorite counselor, their eyes light up and they enthusiastically explain why. The relationship between a counselor and a camper is monumental not only for their enjoyment level while at camp, but also in their lives. I watched first-hand throughout the five weeks as the children gained meaningful friendships with people they look up to and who care for their well-being in and outside of camp.

Alumni like Oscar and Ingrid worked hard every day, energetically engaging with the campers even on the hottest of hot and humid afternoons.

“I love working with kids,” Ingrid said. “I just love when they smile and their faces light up from the smallest things. They are always excited for what’s next.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cresa Washington DC strengthens team through DC SCORES partnership

Written by Kelsi Moran
Communications Intern

As the campers filed into Truesdell Education Campus for camp, Cresa Washington DC employees were busy at work grilling and setting up for the annual Summer BBQ. Plates were cleaned, stomachs were filled, soccer games were played, and Cresa employees had the opportunity to interact with the kids of the program they fundraise for.

The DC SCORES and Cresa partnership began in 2010 when Senior Vice President Chris Finley recognized the lack of a formal community outreach program within the company. Finley believed it was time Cresa (then named Cresa Partners) make an organized effort to give back. He was made chair of the community outreach program and kick-started the search for a partner organization.

In a survey employees were asked to take, Finley found that Cresa employees were interested in the veterans community and underprivileged youth. They were then asked to rank a collection of organizations that target those areas, including DC SCORES.

DC SCORES was not unknown to Finley, who always had a love and respect for the impact it has on youth. Finley lobbied for DC SCORES, and the final decision was made by Cresa employees.

“I was fortunate and proud that DC SCORES was the most popular selection” he said. “There’s no doubt that this is the best organization that has high impact.”

Since the birth of the partnership, Cresa has organized numerous events, connected with sponsors, played in the DC SCORES Cup corporate tournament, and arranged fundraisers. Cresa partially funds DC SCORES summer programming through the annual Couch to Camp campaign -- with employees engaging in successful peer-to-peer outreach.

For Finley, events like the BBQ are encouraged among employees as a way to actually engage with the organization they fundraise for. On Thursday despite another hot and humid afternoon, Cresa employees not only served up a huge lunch for campers but also jumped in the soccer scrimmages – laughing and goofing off with the kids.

“I wanted to create a new method of fundraising to get people to emotionally connect with the cause,” Finley said. “You want people to be emotionally tied.”

As the day came to a close, the mutual benefits of the partnership were clear

“This allows us to strengthen our relationships for a common cause,” Finley said. “We are in a very competitive business and you can lose sight of what’s happening in the communities around you.

“The single greatest thing DC SCORES has done for Cresa is strengthening our team.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Alumni profile: Edwin blossoms into leader under coach Popsie Lewis

Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

Edwin OrdoƱez's story, by now, is known by many. A front page Washington Post article April 11 documented Edwin’s incredible journey.

From an El Salvadorian village where he lived with his grandparents and worked on a farm. To Guatemala, then Mexico, then walking across a desert and swimming across the Rio Grande River with his dad to enter the United States -- at age 9.

From not knowing a lick of English upon entering Washington, DC’s H.D. Cooke Elementary School as a fourth-grader. To graduating valedictorian of his high school, Bell Multicultural, after taking 12 AP classes and six college courses.

To, finally, Princeton University, to which Edwin, a first-generation college student, is receiving basically a full scholarship.

On a mid-July day, Edwin is already at Princeton, taking two courses that take up six hours each day as part of freshman orientation.

“At this point, I’m really excited about all the opportunities that this school has to offer,” Edwin says by phone. “I feel like I will accomplish a lot and I will grow not just as a student but as a leader, and become someone who can really contribute to my community and to the world as a whole.”

That Edwin will lead, that Edwin will achieve -- he can just let his work speak for itself. But how did Edwin become someone all his peers look up to and admire? And how did soccer, the game he grew up loving in El Salvador, fit in?


Fourth grade for Edwin at H.D. Cooke was about getting his bearings in a new land. He knew, however, that he wanted to play on the soccer team. He saw the aqua jerseys with the school name on the back his peers wore every Thursday for game day. He made that a reality in fifth grade, making many friends in DC SCORES. The poetry aspect assisted him as he continued to learn the English language.

“I feel like I received a lot of help from them,” Edwin says of his two poetry coaches at the time.

Edwin’s next stop was Lincoln Middle School in Columbia Heights. Because of great interest, the boys soccer team was split into a sixth and seventh grade team and an eighth grade squad, which was coached by Popsie Lewis. Edwin enjoyed his first year and a half at Lincoln, but it wasn’t until Popsie took over the seventh graders during the spring of Edwin’s second year that he blossomed.

Edwin with his MVP plaque after one of Lincoln's
Capital Cup middle school championships. 
Popsie didn’t waste time in making Edwin his captain and teaching him at every opportunity what makes a great leader. Edwin embraced each lesson. From early on, a bond was formed that would shape Edwin’s path all the way through high school.

“At that point, I felt like I was more than a player when I was on the field,” Edwin says now. “I was like another coach.”

Whenever his teammates got out of line or “a little bit carried away,” Edwin made sure to speak up and restore order. “That was when I really realized what it meant to be a captain,” he says.

Popsie, now a DC SCORES coach of nine years and the recent recipient of D.C. United’s MLS Community MVP, preaches respect more than any other value with his kids at Thomson Elementary and Lincoln, and with his alumni team. He didn’t need to say a word to Edwin.

“That kid had it down pat from Day 1,” Popsie says.


Popsie describes Edwin as a “kid that naturally led,” but as Edwin tells it, leadership only came easily on the soccer field. It took him growing in that role and learning from his coach to become comfortable leading in other capacities in and around school.

“I was always really uncomfortable with taking leadership positions outside of the field,” Edwin says. “But getting that practice on the field really gave me confidence to take on leadership positions outside the field as well, and I feel like that really reflected in the way I started high school and the way I carried myself through high school.”

By the time Edwin reached 11th grade, he had four years of soccer captainship under his belt. Not only had he played at Lincoln, but he was one of the original members of Popsie and Simon Landau’s first DC SCORES alumni team that competed in DC Stoddert leagues year-round. Edwin was the no-brainer captain choice.

Edwin (center) with coach Popsie (left), coach Simon (right) and teammates at an indoor alumni tournament. 
Popsie recalls a handful of occasions when both he and Simon were unable to attend the weekly Saturday game. That presented all sorts of challenges for the group of teenagers, chief among them making sure everyone knew where the game was -- locations varied throughout DC -- and how to get there.

“Edwin was always the one kid that I could call and say, ‘Hey, man, call the kids, get them together, make it to the game, coach the game,’” Popsie says.

“A kid at 16, 17 years old taking that responsibility to not only do what I ask but more importantly having a group of kids under his supervision and always doing the right thing and always putting them in the right situations -- meaning nobody ever got in trouble, nobody ever wandered off from him -- I think that itself spoke volumes about Edwin.

“Because to have those younger kids kind of look up to him -- not only look up to him but obviously have a lot of respect for him -- that’s the only way that was able to work.”

Edwin didn’t play high school soccer. He wanted to, but he didn’t take the chance. The interest at Bell far exceeds the number of spots available. There's only a varsity team. So he just played on Popsie and Simon’s team. And as his workload at school got bigger and bigger, his time away from all of it meant that much more.

Edwin (2nd from right) also found time to become a certified volunteer referee for DC SCORES game days. 

“Soccer has always been a way to relax myself,” Edwin says, “a way to forget about the schoolwork for a little bit. During my time at Bell, I felt like that was something I really needed a lot of the time.”

In that 11th grade year, generally considered the hardest of high school, Edwin, in his own words, fully embraced leadership in all aspects of his life. He became the Vice President of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club at school, a position that meant representing hundreds of students from all across the District who are interested in business.

Edwin thrived in the position and his stature in Bell’s hallways continued to grow, too, with more and more students looking up to him. If being named valedictorian was a campaign, this was the beginning of Edwin’s political journey.

“It was a bigger position, a bigger responsibility, and I felt like it was because of the way that I felt after all those years of practice on the field,” Edwin says now of his decision to take on the VP role.

Just this past June, he delivered the valedictorian speech to his fellow graduates.


When Edwin thinks back on the impact of DC SCORES, he calls it “literally … a second family for me.”

Edwin was relatively calm when he found out about his acceptance to Princeton -- one of 25 schools, six in the Ivy League, he applied to -- but his coaches weren’t. Simon called Edwin 10 seconds after hearing the news.

“They were really happy,” Edwin says. “They were even more happy and excited than I was.

“Popsie has been more than a coach, more than a friend, and I’m really, really happy with the bond that we’ve created -- not only with him, but also with Simon and with my teammates as well.

“I feel like those are people I always can count on.”

Many of Edwin’s toughest obstacles are behind him. Crossing the entirety of Mexico. Learning a new language. Making friends. Getting the full scholarship despite not being eligible for federal loans or grants because of his immigration status.

And one thing is certain: As Edwin embarks on this next journey, studying computer engineering and hoping to play club soccer, Princeton University has a seasoned freshman leader on campus.

“He had so many things stacked up against him,” Popsie says. “But never once did he lose track of what his ultimate goal was.”