Atlanta United Foundation Announces Grant to Expand ‘Mentoring through Soccer’ Program

The Atlanta United Foundation, an affiliate of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, announces a grant of $280,570 over three years in support of ‘Mentoring through Soccer,’ a joint youth program of the Latin American Association (LAA) and Soccer in the Streets (SITS).

The LAA, a nearly 50-year old nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latinos to adapt, integrate, and thrive, has been serving middle- and high-school aged youth of Latino communities for over two decades. The LAA’s youth education work centers on mentoring designed to prepare Latino youth for college and career. SITS is a nonprofit that works to develop young leaders so they can lead rich lives and cultivate healthy communities through sports-based youth development. Known for bringing the game of soccer to youth who are excluded due to their economic race or cultural circumstances, SITS uses soccer to prepare them for success in life on and off the field. 

This support from the Atlanta United Foundation will allow both organizations to combine and expand their youth-centered programming. ‘Mentoring through Soccer’ will facilitate group and one-on-one mentoring, using soccer to reinforce soft skills, leadership development, and college readiness. Centered on the Cross Keys cluster of DeKalb County School District (DCSD), ‘Mentoring through Soccer’ has begun at Sequoyah Middle School and will expand to high school and elementary school in years two and three of the grant. Over 90% of the students in the Cross Keys cluster are Latino. Over 1,500 students attend this Title I high school, and over 75% are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

LAA Managing Director of Education Mr. Eliezer Velez says, “We are so grateful for the support of Atlanta United. Our students seem themselves in the players and can do so much with the right support and guidance.” 

“Our mission at the Atlanta United Foundation is to make soccer more accessible across the state of Georgia,” says Abby Lutzenkirchen, Program Associate, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “The ‘Mentoring Through Soccer’ program provides a unique combination of physical play and mentorship that will result in increased confidence and leadership skills, and we’re proud to be a part of bringing this program to young fans of our club.”;

“Expanding the mentoring program with the LAA through the grant from the Atlanta United Foundation brings more opportunities for our youth to succeed,” said Phil Hill, SITS Executive Director. “Programs like this one are a key element in our mission of developing young leaders thought our sport-based development programs.” 

This grant follows Atlanta United and Major League Soccer’s support of Sequoyah Middle School, parts of the Cross Keys cluster in DeKalb County. In honor of Campeones Cup, the annual match between the American and Mexican champion teams, Major League Soccer (MLS) refurbished the soccer field at 

Sequoyah, including new grass, landscaping of the trees, new goals, and a Campeones Cup-themed mural by local artist Thomas Turner.