Friday , December 2 2022

MLS NEXT & DoorDash announce recipients of delivering access!

MLS NEXT and DoorDash have announced the six recipients of MLS NEXT Delivering Access presented by DoorDash, a program benefitting MLS NEXT clubs by providing financial resources that advance soccer communities throughout the MLS NEXT system. DoorDash will provide $25,000 to each of the following six clubs – Chula Vista FC, KSA, L.A. United Futbol Academy, Queen City Mutiny, San Francisco Seals, and Tormenta FC.

After uncovering stories of exceptional self-sacrifice by members of the soccer community, MLS NEXT Delivering Access presented by DoorDash contributes annual funding to soccer communities across the MLS NEXT ecosystem. Clubs submitted their stories demonstrating the grassroots efforts made by players, staff, families, and local communities, with the six recipients selected by a four-person review panel. MLS club academies were not eligible to receive the funds that are provided to enhance and support non-MLS affiliated clubs.

MLS NEXT Delivering Access presented by DoorDash Recipients:

Chula Vista FC (Chula Vista, Calif.)

Located on the border of the United States and Mexico, many Chula Vista FC coaches and players live in Tijuana, Mexico, due to the high cost of living in San Diego County. The club offers financial aid to a third of its families and Delivering Access funds will be used to continue that aid.

“The MLS NEXT Delivering Access presented by DoorDash funds will allow our club to continue delivering a professional training environment in a community with many needs. This award will allow us to keep up with costs to maintain top fields, coaches, and equipment to compete at the highest level in MLS NEXT. Thank you to DoorDash and MLS NEXT for creating this program, which will help our club immensely. – Academy Director, J Hector Diaz.

KSA (Lilburn, Ga.)

KSA supports the Black and refugee communities in Georgia’s DeKalb County by providing referee certifications, opportunities to work and a safe space to grow and develop. KSA aims to prevent youth from getting into trouble while creating a pathway for players to earn college scholarships and professional contracts. Delivering Access funds will help with travel and transportation costs associated with attending MLS NEXT showcases across the country.

“We’re really excited and grateful for this. We serve many underprivileged kids and help them travel to so many great MLS NEXT events, but it can be difficult at times. With this funding, it will enable these incredible young kids so that they can attend all events across the country.” – Executive Director, Head Coach and Lead Mentor, Bruno Kalonji.

L.A. United Futbol Academy (Los Angeles, Calif.)

In addition to providing a premier soccer experience for youth players, L.A. United Futbol Academy (LAUFA) also partners with athletes’ families to manage their academic career through mentoring, tutoring, and academic scholarships. A majority of LAUFA’s players come from low-income households and Delivering Access funds will be used to subsidize travel expenses that families incur throughout the season.

“With this contribution, DoorDash is supporting the development of many young students and athletes who really need it. The LAUFA community deeply appreciates the support provided by MLS NEXT and DoorDash.” – LAUFA MLS NEXT Director, Jonas Perez Murillo.

Queen City Mutiny (Charlotte, N.C.)

The club offers free clinics in the inner-city communities of Charlotte to identify athletes from underprivileged communities who deserve a chance to play in MLS NEXT. They also provide scholarships to families, but transportation to and from games can be problematic as many families do not own cars. Delivering Access funds will be used to purchase a 12-15 seat passenger van to help players commute to training and matches across the region.

“This is a huge incentive for our club and is going to help us transport underprivileged families to and from training, but also to away games that had been difficult previously. We are so grateful to receive this, and we look forward to investing it in a passenger van that will allow all of our players to continue their development in MLS NEXT.” – Executive / Academy Director, Rani Ghaziri.

San Francisco Seals (San Francisco, Calif.)

Originally founded in 1981, the Seals are a nonprofit club that provides soccer to underserved communities in the Bay Area. The club utilizes scholarships from 25% to 100% as part of their ‘pay to play’ and ‘play for free’ programs. Delivering Access funds will assist with those scholarships to benefit U13 and U14 players.

“We are extremely proud of our scholarship programs that started when the club was founded and have created a high-level pathway for youth soccer players in our community. It is incredible to be recognized by MLS NEXT and DoorDash through this initiative and we are so thankful to have the chance to continue this long-standing tradition.” – Coaching Director, Shani Simpson.

Tormenta FC (Statesboro, Ga.)

Tormenta FC provides need-based scholarships for all of their soccer programs, as the average household income of these scholarship recipients is $46,000. Delivering Access funds will help with their scholarship program and allow the club to offer more chances for youth to play soccer in Georgia.

“We at Tormenta live and breathe soccer and this program is so important for us. Our families are going to benefit incredibly from it, but more than that, this will create a significant trickle-down effect for future generations of players at Tormenta. We cannot thank DoorDash and MLS NEXT enough for selecting us as a Delivering Access recipient.” – Director of Coaching, Stefan King.

All submissions were reviewed by MLS NEXT staff, who identified the top 10 applications based on the criteria below. A four-person review panel then evaluated the clubs that demonstrated extraordinary needs or challenges by grading each application on a scale of 1-10, with one being the lowest and ten the highest. All scores were tabulated to determine the six recipient clubs. The panel considered the following factors:

  • Coaching and Training: Clubs that have financial needs to support training, equipment, facilities, and/or coaching tools.
  • Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Clubs that prioritize building and sustaining an inclusive and equitable environment for all within their soccer community, including players, staff, and parents.
  • Community: Clubs that rely on community members to provide volunteer services or products to a club to ensure quality operations and an acceptable training environment.
  • Financial Hardship: Clubs who demonstrate the need for financial assistance to support player scholarships to participate.
  • Transportation: Clubs who demonstrate the need for transportation to allow players to participate.

The four-person review panel was comprised of:

  • DoorDash Representative (Kofi Amoo-Gottfried – Chief Marketing Officer)
  • MLS Player Development Representative (Fred Lipka – Vice President, Player and Youth Development)
  • MLS NEXT Equity Action Committee Representative (Kaig Lightner – CEO & Gender Diversity Consultant)
  • MLS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Representative (Tunde Oguntimein – Vice President, Commissioner’s Office)

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