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Chicago Fire FC First-Ever Sports Team to be Named a Finalist for Prestigious U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Citizens Awards

September 28, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire News Release

CHICAGO - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named the Chicago Fire Football Club a finalist in the 21st annual Citizens Awards, a long-standing program that honors businesses for the impact they make in communities around the world. Chicago Fire FC, specifically through the Chicago Fire Foundation, was nominated in the category of Best Commitment to Education Program. This is the first time in 21 years that a sports team has been named a finalist in this category.

More than 40% of public school students in Chicago do not graduate high school, and nearly 70 students drop out of school every day. The Fire is looking to change these statistics through the Club's innovative after-school soccer program, P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer), a 10-week program integrating soccer with social and emotional learning character skills to ultimately improve participants' academic performance, while providing a safe and supportive environment to engage in soccer. P.L.A.Y.S. participants have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions and failing grades. There has also been a 50% drop in crime near program spaces, which is significant given that 60% of P.L.A.Y.S. schools were in the most high-risk neighborhoods in Chicago.

The P.L.A.Y.S. program serves 1,000 girls and boys of which 98% are of color, 93% are from families classified as low-income, and 95% qualify for free and/or reduced lunch and live at, or below, the U.S. poverty level.

"We are truly honored to be named a finalist among such an exceptional list of organizations that are dedicated to making a change in their communities," said Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz. "The Chicago Fire Football Club and the Foundation have always had a focus on the issues facing the city of Chicago and that begins at the youth level through education and sports. We are committed to supporting Chicagoans throughout the city via our P.L.A.Y.S. Program."

Now in its 21st year, the annual awards program recognizes the most innovative and impactful corporate citizenship initiatives raising the bar on social responsibility and spearheading the transformation to a strong, healthy and sustainable future.

The winners of the 2020 Citizens Awards will be announced during the U.S. Chamber Foundation's annual Corporate Citizenship Conference & Awards on November 17-19.


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