U.S. Soccer Awards Record $3 Million In Grant Funding Through Innovate To Grow Initiative In 2023

Funding will Impact More than 576,000 Players, Coaches and Referees Across the U.S. Soccer Landscape
USSF Crest
USSF Crest

CHICAGO (May 4, 2023) – U.S. Soccer today announced that its Board of Directors approved over $3 million in Innovate to Grow grants to fund 19 programs by 16 member organizations that will benefit over 576,000 players, coaches and referees across the U.S. Soccer landscape.

The amount of funding surpassed the previous record of $2.4 million that was awarded in 2020 and will fund programming focused on increasing youth and adult participation, increasing retention, removing barriers to access, and embracing and encouraging all kinds of play.

U.S. Soccer approved $3,050,992 to support 19 projects, seven of which are first-time Innovate to Grow Fund recipients. This cycle also marked the first time applications were reviewed and selected by a committee of Board members. 

The Innovate to Grow grants will help fund an array of unique projects across U.S. Soccer’s membership that include focusing on increasing coaches and referees while working to improve their environments, inspiring kids to play the game while improving their self-esteem and social skills, and creating opportunities for girls and women, players with disabilities, and participants in underserved communities to become involved across various areas of the game.

Recognizing the vital role that Federation Members play in the growth of soccer in the U.S., the Innovate to Grow Fund was established in 2017 to help U.S. Soccer member organizations launch new and innovative programs designed to grow participation in their markets. To be considered for grant funding, Members’ proposed programs must meet certain criteria as part of a comprehensive application process, including:

  • Must be U.S. Soccer Organization Member in good standing with member dues, player data, and SafeSport policies
  • One (1) to (3) year grant duration for new programs OR programs that have been piloted within the last three (3) years and would use ITG funds to scale up and expand
  • Member must show financial investment into program, including their own funds, other donor or sponsorship funding, reinvesting program revenue, or in-kind contributions
  • Program must align with U.S. Soccer philosophies on player development, coaching, and player safety
  • Maximum grant of $200,000, subject to exceptions approved by the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors

Members interested in learning more about Innovate to Grow grant funding can learn more by emailing ITGFund@ussoccer.org.

Following is a full list of the organizations and state associations were awarded funding for the 2022-2023 Innovate to Grow Fund grants:

California State Soccer Association - South / Kentucky Youth Soccer Association
(Get on the Bus)

After-school program including a rec soccer league, tutoring, personal development, and free participation and transportation.

California State Soccer Association – South
(Unaffiliated Membership Recruitment & Development Program)

Outreach to unaffiliated organizations in Southern California, mainly Hispanic, to build trust and inclusion with a pathway to Cal South membership, creating a healthy, safe, and affordable community soccer ecosystem, centered around fun, fitness and family.

Cerebral Palsy Soccer, Inc.
(United Adaptive Soccer Association)

Establish coordination between the members of the Disability Soccer Committee on training, pan disability events, coaching education, development pathways, and other priorities for Disability Service Organization members.

Georgia State Soccer Association
(Positively Soccer Coaching Initiative - Outreach to Female and Hispanic players to become Coaches)

With the Soccer Parenting Association, facilitate Grassroots and D coaching education courses for female players at member youth clubs and adult leagues, as well as support Hispanic clubs with Spanish-language courses.

Iowa Soccer Association
(Referee Growth & Sportsmanship Improvement)

Expand a pilot program that grows the base of the referee pyramid by targeting kids between the 12U-14U age groups to give them the tools to manage small-sided games while minimizing barriers.

Maryland State Youth Soccer Association
(Let’s Play!)

After-school initiative designed to transform the lives of participants by providing a safe, character building, community supported program that helps to teach social and emotional skills while fighting obesity and related illnesses, all while growing excitement around the beautiful game of soccer!

Missouri Youth Soccer Association
(League America Missouri)

Expand content and programming serving recreational administrators, coaches, players, parents, families, and referees through education and resources, networking, and financial support.

Montana Youth Soccer Association
(Futbol Para Todos)

With Gallatin Elite SC, increase participation and inclusion of underserved populations in Gallatin Valley by breaking down cost and language barriers.

Montana Youth Soccer Association
(Missoula Strikers Futsal Program)

With the Missoula Strikers, create a new futsal league for Missoula and the surrounding communities to engage new players and provide year-round playing opportunities that remove many of the financial barriers to play.

New Jersey Youth Soccer
(Let's Play!)

After-school initiative designed to transform the lives of participants by providing a safe, character building, community supported program that helps to teach social and emotional skills while fighting obesity and related illnesses, all while growing excitement around the beautiful game of soccer!

New Jersey Youth Soccer
(Referee Foundation Program)

"Recreation Referee" program that introduces officating at the recreation level for players aged 12 and 13 and sponsoring Grassroots registrations and entry costs for referees 14-16, along with a marketing campaign to tackle sideline abuse.

New York State West Youth Soccer Association
(Women in Coaching - Acceleration Program)

Increase the number of women coaches by offering free access to Grassroots level instruction and give more incentive for women to start their coaching journey.

North Carolina Youth Soccer Association
(Soccer Starts at Home - North Carolina)

State-wide program implemented with Soccer Starts at Home to introduce soccer to families with age-appropriate skills guided by parents for children 2-6 years old, stressing repetition and family involvement, with a focus on underserved children and families.

North Texas Soccer Association
(Referee Initiative)

Establish an outreach program against referee abuse, expand mentorship of first- and second-year referees, and subsize referee registration costs to encourage more referees to certify and increase recertification numbers.

Tennessee State Soccer Association
(901 Girls with Goals)

With Play Where You Stay, create a more accessible soccer experience for middle school and high school girls in under-resourced schools in Memphis, meeting student-athletes where they are and creating an environment where they can learn the game from experienced coaches.

US Adult Soccer Association
(NORD initiative)

With the New Orleans Jesters Academy and New Orleans Recreation Department, launch a pilot program to provide after-school community youth soccer in New Orleans with no financial barriers to participation.

US Youth Soccer
(Soccer for Success School Curriculum)

In partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and various state associations, provide a turnkey solution for educators to teach the fundamentals of soccer while integrating activities that educate students to establish life-long healthy habits, develop physical and health literacy, as well as improve their self-esteem and social behavior.

Utah Youth Soccer Association
(Utah Grassroots Benefits Package)

To grow membership at the grassroots level, implement a grassroots benefits package program that will grow the recreation/grassroots base by providing financial aid to grassroots programs, a free ticket for every player each year to an RSL game, and free introductory referee training/certification among other benefits.

Utah Youth Soccer Association
(Utah Referee Retention & Growth Program)

Expand a "zero tolerance" program for referee abuse and subsidize entry costs for new referees.