NYC Football Club's community initiative positively impacts young lives

22 November 2018 4 min. read
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The foundation of New York City Football Club, City in the Community (CITC), has over the past four years provided thousands of young people from underserved communities with a safe place to play soccer and take part in other beneficial activities. An analysis by consulting firm Ecorys shows that the foundation’s efforts have been a driving force for good in the community.

Founded in 2014, CITC is a charitable foundation of Major League Soccer team New York City Football Club. With the help of a network of dedicated volunteers and partners, CITC uses soccer programs to promote health, education, and leadership development to 4,000 youths across the five boroughs every week, free of charge. Programs include physical education, recess, after school and summer programs, nutrition education, Saturday Night Lights (which offers soccer during peak crime hours), academic support, mentorship, youth advocacy, and cognitive behavioural therapy.

To measure the positive effects of the foundation’s efforts, NYCFC commissioned consulting firm Ecorys to complete an impact report on two of the 20 schools where CITC programming takes place – namely, Lexington Academy in East Harlem and P.S. 24 in Brooklyn. Partnering with the United Arab Emirates Embassy (NYCFC is majority-owned by Sheikh Mansour, Deputy PM of the UAE and owner of Manchester City FC), CITC built state-of-the-art soccer pitches at both schools to host programming.The City in the Community programBased solely on benefits of increased physical activity, Ecorys calculated that the program generates a monetary social return of $4.50 for every $1 invested at the two school sites. The program is further expected to contribute substantial savings for taxpayer services (Medicaid, policing and incarceration) by bettering health and educational outcomes while reducing involvement in crime.

The study also found other positive effects in the areas of physical activity, diet, education, personal development, and community safety.

In terms of physical activity, 90% of respondents at the two areas said their engagement in physical activity had increased since getting involved with CITC activities. Nearly half of those surveyed at the Sunset Park (Brooklyn) location and a third of East Harlem respondents said they had increased their weekly sport and exercise engagement by 4-7 hours.

Over 90% of respondents said that CITC activities had helped them eat more healthily. Over 40% of elementary school participants reported an increase in their consumption of fruits and vegetables, with a similar proportion reporting a drop in soda and candy consumption. Meanwhile, 54% of older respondents reported consuming less candy, while 77% reported drinking more water.Summary of findingsMeanwhile, the CITC’s sports programs, mentoring, and workshops have positively impacted educational outcomes, with 69% of older respondents saying that the CITC had ‘definitely’ helped them stay in school or college. Tutoring and workshops from professionals like police officer were credited with inspiring participants. One respondent commented, “Just experiencing how to help others made me want to be in it…I’ve applied to internships… to be in pre-med and stuff like that…[before] I didn’t want to be anything… but ever since that workshop you know there’s options and I’m going to be something.”

The program also aided the personal development of participants, with teachers emphasizing the personal growth they witnessed in students who participated in CITC. According to older participants, the programming created a safe space for emotional support and friendship, with 55% reporting improved confidence, 55% citing making friends and socializing as a reason for taking part in activities, and 40% highlighting the draw of going to a safe place after school or during weekends.

Finally, over half (52%) of older respondents from East Harlem said that attending the program helped them reduce or prevent their involvement in crime. Some also noted that the activities had a positive impact on reducing or preventing the use of drugs (19%), alcohol (14%), and cigarettes (10%). One CITC Young Leader in East Harlem commented, “Back then all this area… used to be horrible… there’s been a lot of gang violence, drugs…if that [CITC] wasn’t around all these kids would have been in most likely gangs… drugs, but that [CITC] opened up [a] whole new world for everybody through soccer…”