To this day, Michael Wagener can’t believe what he started.
He is amazed that a single grant to a friend of his started a program, now 18 years old, that serves over 1,450 DC youth. And he is inspired by DC SCORES’ success and growth, which is why this afternoon in between the girls and boys Capital Cup middle school championship games he will present DC SCORES with a $10,000 check.
The funds will go toward helping DC SCORES continue to expand to serve every child in the District who wants to be on a soccer team, who wants that creative outlet through which to express themselves.
“I’ve been so proud of what SCORES has done,” said Wagener, who has ran the grant committee of the Soccer ‘94 Foundation since the early 1990s. “I go to the annual event [America SCORES National Poetry SLAM!] in New York and it’s hard to have a dry eye when you walk out of there.
“What they’ve done is phenomenal.”
Wagener’s efforts to provide $5,000 here and $10,000 there to various youth soccer organizations in the greater Washington, DC area — for the past nearly 20 years — have been equally impressive.
It all started when the World Cup came to the United States in 1994 and a nonprofit — Soccer ‘94 — was formed that would receive a slim portion of ticket sales. Not only did the organization receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the World Cup, but it also got revenue from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics two years later. And thanks to Wagener’s philanthropic efforts, that revenue has benefited countless young soccer players such as the kids we see every week at DC SCORES schools throughout the city.
The first person Wagener worked with as part of Soccer ‘94 was Julie Kennedy, who founded DC SCORES at Marie Reed Learning Center (now Marie Reed Elementary School) in 1994. Thanks to the Foundation’s first grant, Kennedy’s Reed team was provided with soccer equipment and goals.
“My path was to get out and be involved with our growing population (excited) for youth soccer,” Wagener said. “So we started to support Julie Kennedy.”
Since then, Wagener has contributed greatly to both DC SCORES and America SCORES, founded in 1999, through providing insurance and helping to fund expansion, such as when we began our middle school program in 2006.
“It teaches kids you can really be anything you want if you try,” Wagener said of the SCORES model. “I still play soccer, too. Soccer’s been one of the things that’s kept my world together.”
This afternoon, Wagener will be on hand at Columbia Heights Education Campus to hand out a big check — and little check — to DC SCORES some 18 years after he took over the Foundation’s grant committee and helped kick start the program.
“There’s not a better group that I know to benefit of our generosity right now,” Wagener said.
Thank you, Michael, for making an indelible impact on the lives of thousands of DC youth!