While much uncertainty and negativity ensnared the world, our country, and our city this past year, DC SCORES continued to thrive and stay mission-driven. We grew — again — to serve 2,200 low-income DC kids this fall. We completed the first year of a groundbreaking partnership with Major League Soccer's D.C. United, which led to increased visibility around the city and the chance to showcase our program in even more places. We strengthened relationships with city government officials, becoming somewhat of a mainstay at the Wilson Building. OK, we'll stop now and just get to the highlights!
This is never an easy task, but below in link, photo and video form (and chronological order) are our Top 16 from 2016. Please help us continue to grow — our waiting list stands at 20-plus schools! — and serve more DC kids with a tax-deductible donation before the ball drops Dec. 31
No. 16 — The first-ever Winter Sports Day
Last year, Winter SCORES reached a new level. In addition to daily nutrition education programming at eight schools and soccer clinics, we held the first Winter Sports Day. In partnership with the Qatari Embassy and Qatar Foundation International, more than 150 kids traveled to the Total Soccer Arena in Maryland for an afternoon of soccer games and learning about Qatari culture.
No. 15 — Nando's supports DC SCORES
What a day Feb. 27 was. In the morning, we got ready for the spring season with our Coach Kickoff training. Then everyone headed to the Nando's Peri for its grand opening supporting DC SCORES. Thanks to our partnership with D.C. United, a portion of proceeds from the restaurant's opening went directly to DC kids. Also, several D.C. United players came to eat and meet SCORES staff. And alumnus Christian, an aspiring cook, got a chance to help out in the kitchen.
No. 14 — Largest alumni tournament yet
Seventeen teams. More than 150 kids. Under cooperating skies, the 6th Annual Alumni Tournament sponsored by District Sports at Tubman Elementary School was a huge success as high school kids from across the city came together during spring break for an afternoon of soccer games, reuniting with friends and teammates of the past, and more.
No. 13 — Under the bright lights in New York City
For M'kya S., the poetry aspect of DC SCORES allowed the 10-year-old to express her feelings about violence in her neighborhood. M'kya excelled at the 2015 Poetry Slam! and was selected to represent her school, city, and DC SCORES at the America SCORES Poetry Slam! in NYC. M'kya met other kids from across the country and excelled on stage in front of a capacity audience.
BLOGS: Parts I, II, III and trip journal
No. 12 — DC SCORES on Telemundo
2016 was a great year for DC SCORES on TV and in newspapers. Not only was SCORES highlighted in The Washington Post twice, on ABC twice, and on CBS and NBC, but in May Telemundo featured the program — specifically bilingual Bancroft Elementary School — in a powerful segment.
No. 11 — Jamboree! continues to grow
Every year, it gets bigger. That was again the case in June as the 21st Jamboree!, DC SCORES' largest event at Anacostia Park, featured 2,000 kids playing soccer and engaging in other activities during a fun six hours. The event wouldn't have been possible without 150-plus volunteers and multiple partner organizations.
No. 10 — Speaking of big, how about that SCORES Cup?
What makes holding such a large Jamboree! possible, not to mention the continuing growth of our program? Well, expanding our largest annual fundraiser helps! The 14th DC SCORES Cup did just that. The one-day tournament for companies on June 25 featured 500 DC-area professionals representing 32 teams and raised an event-record $140,000 directly benefiting DC kids.
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No. 9 — Welcoming many new staff
Serving more kids means hiring more staff to make it feasible, and 2016 was a banner year for bringing on new members to our team. In April, we added Duha Elmardi, an Atlas Corps fellow from Sudan. In July, we brought on Tony Francavilla to head up individual giving and Chloe Doto to lead community engagement. And a month later, we added four service-year members to our program team. The result? DC SCORES' largest internal team ever committed to changing DC kids' lives.
No. 8 — Mark "Popsie" Lewis wins Community MVP
Speaking of staff, we officially added Mark "Popsie" Lewis in 2016 to run our alumni program for high school students — something he's been doing unofficially for many soccer seasons. Popsie has coached DC SCORES teams from elementary school through high school for a decade, and in June he was named the D.C. United MLS Works Community MVP for his commitment. Popsie's award won a cash prize for DC SCORES and a trip for him to San Jose, Calif., to represent at the MLS All-Star Game.
No. 7 — Edwin goes to Princeton
Each summer, we watch with pride as DC SCORES alumni head off to higher education. For many, they are first-generation college students. The majority have overcome myriad obstacles societal and economic to take the big step. Such was the case for Edwin, who swam across the Rio Grande at age 9 to come to America, learned English with help from DC SCORES, and blossomed into a leader under coach Popsie. Edwin's story was on the front page of The Washington Post in April, and he earned a full scholarship to attend Princeton.
No. 6 — Leron wins Mayor's Arts Award
In September, poet-athlete Leron B. of Imagine Hope Community Charter School won the Outstanding Student Award at the 31st Mayor's Arts Awards. In front of a capacity audience of DC's most distinguished artists and advocates at the historic Lincoln Theatre, Leron performed and then graciously accepted the award.
No. 5 — DC SCORES debuts City Soccer League
In October, we debuted a third soccer league. Those familiar with DC SCORES know that elementary schools have "Game Day" on Thursdays followed by middle schools on Fridays. Thanks to adding several recreation center sites to programming as a result of our partnership with D.C. United, this past fall we began the City Soccer League (CSL) on Wednesdays. Program Manager Chris Hudler masterfully organized the league for all our recreation sites, making Game Day a three-times-a-week occurrence!
No. 4 — Fall Frenzy brings nonstop activity for kids
The kids kept coming. And so did the volunteers. On Oct. 22, Trinity Washington University's athletic fields were swarmed with a mass of elementary school children wearing different colored T-shirts. And 175 volunteers in yellow shirts. The fall outdoor celebration featured soccer games, relay races, dodgeball, D.C. United autographs, poetry writing, dancing, health and wellness education, hill rolling, and much more. And it ran incredibly smoothly thanks to such a large volunteer turnout.
No. 3 — A Poetry Slam! full of inspiration
No event showcases the impact of DC SCORES better than the Poetry Slam!, and 2016 in particular illustrated this. During the two-day showcase, students representing 40 schools took the stage in front of capacity audiences to spill out their feelings about their lives, the world around them, their country, their dreams, their anxieties, and their fears.
BLOGS: Westside, Eastside
PHOTOS: Westside, Eastside
No. 2 — Capital Cup shows strength of SCORES communities
The fall 2016 DC SCORES season concluded under the lights at Cardozo Education Campus during a pair of middle school championship soccer games that illustrated the progress teams make during our 12-week season. The games also showed how SCORES brings communities together and strengthens them. The Truesdell Education Campus boys cheered heartily from the stands as the girls team completed an improbable comeback. And Raymond Education Campus' boys won their second consecutive Capital Cup thanks to tremendous teamwork and the support of a large contingent of parents and community members.
No. 1 — Zakayah and Mashir shine on live TV
Zakayah, 8, of Burrville Elementary School and Mashir, 10, of Imagine Hope helped close out the year in style by performing their Poetry Slam! poems live on NBC — looking like naturals in front of the brightest of lights. After their performances on the midday news, NBC's anchor gave them a hug — thanking the poet-athletes for the inspiration.
And that, really, is how one could sum up DC SCORES in 2016. From the soccer field. To the poetry classroom. To in front of the cameras. To New York. And back. To Princeton. And to many other places throughout this great city, SCORES kids, coaches and staff inspired, demonstrating that the program is as strong as ever and will continue to grow.
Here's to more of the same in 2017. Please give HERE to help us sustain and grow!