U.S. Soccer Awards $3 Million in Funding to Benefit Member Organizations through 2024 Innovate to Grow Initiative

Over 762,000 Players, Coaches and Referees Will Benefit from the Grant Funding; U.S. Soccer Approved All Budgeted Funds for Third Consecutive Year
USSF Crest
USSF Crest

CHICAGO (Feb. 6, 2024) – U.S. Soccer announced that its Board of Directors approved over $3 million in Innovate to Grow grants to fund 27 programs by 25 member organizations that will benefit 762,398 players, coaches and referees across the U.S. Soccer ecosystem. The announcement comes ahead of U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting which will take place in Dallas from Feb. 8-11.

This marks the third consecutive year that U.S. Soccer approves all budgeted funds for grants. In line with U.S. Soccer’s strategic vision and accelerated initiatives, the grants will help grow the game and foster the best playing environments by funding programming focused on increasing accessibility and participation for soccer in all its forms as well as providing resources to increase the availability of referee and coaching education resources for several members across the country.

U.S. Soccer approved $3,000,165 to support 27 projects, eight of which will be first-time Innovate to Grow Fund recipients. 

The Innovate to Grow grants will directly fund programming to increase education resources for youth coaches and referees, remove financial barriers of entry for participants in marginalized communities, increase participation opportunities for girls and women, and provide resources for an array of Disabled Service Organizations to make soccer more accessible to all. 

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

  • 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

Affiliated, non-Pro League 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 U.S. Soccer member organizations that were awarded funding for the 2023-2024 Innovate to Grow Fund grant cycle (* denotes first-time ITG recipient, not including COVID-19 relief grants):

American Amputee Soccer Association*
(AASA 2024 Grassroots Development Plan)

Strengthen regional programming and develop a governance structure that supports sustainable funding and provides seminars for coaches and referees to teach unique challenges and rules for amputee soccer.

American Youth Soccer Organization*
(AYSO + Georgia Soccer:  Expand Access Georgia)

Bring the game to youth in marginalized and low-access communities, leveraging a market-tested approach to start and sustain soccer programs. 

Arizona Soccer Association
ASA Excel Soccer Academy After School Program

Through Excel Soccer Academy, introduce basic soccer principles, develop self-confidence, improve gross motor skills, and develop socialization skills in an after-school program. 

California State Soccer Association – South
Soccer for Success

Operates in Title I schools in Southern California and allows children from low-income, BIPOC, and/or other marginalized communities the opportunity to experience the game and participate on site at their schools. 

California State Soccer Association – South
Cal South Referee Respect Campaign

Create and implement the “RESPECT REFEREE CAMPAIGN” to combat the increase in referee abuse through education of the laws of the game and referee recruitment targeting players, coaches, and spectators. 

Colorado Soccer Association
Building Adult Soccer in Colorado

Build the adult side of soccer in Colorado by increasing our numbers of adult league coaches, referees, and players through minority inclusion. 

Delaware Youth Soccer Association*
Delaware Girls' Soccer Initiative

Provide girls of color from low-income households, who are considered at-risk, with experience of the game of soccer at the grassroots level. 

Down Syndrome Sports of America*
DSSA Grassroots Development Roadshow

Expand DSSA's reach across the United States to meet a greater number of new and existing soccer players with Down syndrome, organizing a monthly grassroots roadshow so current and new coaches can work with groups of potential players and coaches across the country. 

Idaho Youth Soccer Association
Idaho Referee Recruitment & Retention Program

Along with Idaho State Soccer Association and the Idaho State Referee Committee, improve referee performance and increase referee retention and recruitment through increased mentorship and education for all referees, with additional support for young referees. 

Illinois Youth Soccer Association
IYSA Youth Referee Initiative

Recruit, retain, mentor, and support youth athletes to become licensed referees. 

Indiana Soccer Association
The In-School Futsal Initiative:  "Pursuing Preeminence"

Provide affordable, sustainable, and scalable access to the world’s game via futsal, introducing students to the game of futsal in their physical education classes. 

Iowa Soccer Association
Planning to Develop Female Engagement & Leadership

Convene a group of experts to develop a well thought out, thorough, and executable plan to engage and empower females in the state grow as players, lead as coaches, be confident as referees, and authoritative as administrators. 

Maryland State Youth Soccer Association
Referee Development:  Establishing an equitable & sustainable model

Pilot a program model where multiple, purposeful development opportunities are provided at no cost to referees in concert with some of the larger sanctioned events each year and as a simplified, introductory referee mentor program is implemented. 

Minnesota Youth Soccer Association
MYSA FUNdamentals Grassroots Program

Tailored to coaches of youth players aged 5 to 8 years old, the program covers important coaching philosophies, fundamental skills by age and easy to implement practice plans, helping coaches to create the best environment for players to have a great experience playing and growing their skills, and leading to an increase in overall participation. 

Mississippi Soccer Association*

Improve the U9-U12 soccer experiences through implementation of regionalized leagues, along with corresponding referee, club, coach, and parent engagement/development opportunities to increase participation. 

Nevada Youth Soccer Association
NYSA Soccer Sprouts

Dynamic initiative designed to ignite the passion for soccer among children ages U5-U10 in the Las Vegas valley, bringing together all NYSA sanctioned grassroots programs on one day, offering short clinics, drills and engaging activities to spark the interest of potential players. 

New York State West 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. 

Ohio Soccer Association*
Grow the Game Campaign

Create a highly relevant, provocative, sharable, and actionable content strategy and marketing campaign that increases the number of four to eight-year-olds participating in OSA recreational and grassroots soccer programs across the State of Ohio. 

Oregon Youth Soccer Association
Bridge City Soccer Academy's Community Impact Program

Through Bridge City Soccer Academy, provide free access to soccer targeted toward underserved communities in the Portland metro area. 

Oregon Youth Soccer Association
Youth Referee Academy

With Capital Futbol Club, expand their Youth Referee Academy, which is designed to address the community’s shrinking and aging referee pool by recruiting new youth referees, giving them a support structure that will allow them to both develop as referees and as young people, increasing referee retention and recertification. 

United Soccer Coaches*
Coaches Communities/Underserved Communities Initiative

Bring coaching education to underserved communities, especially minorities, women, lower socioeconomic status individuals, and young coaches. 

United States Association of Blind Athletes
Blind Soccer Coaching and Referee Certification

Establish blind soccer coaches and referee certification curriculum and program for the emerging sport of blind soccer. 

US Youth Soccer
The Game Format Project

USYS has worked closely with U.S. Soccer in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 on their game format review for U5 and U6. This review is currently in Phase 3 and USYS has recruited a cohort of seven clubs to test the age group recommendations on a larger scale.

USA Deaf Soccer Association*
Grassoots Expansion

Find ways to identify Deaf and HoH players within leagues who are already playing, develop Summer Camps, pop up clinics, and build on leagues already in motion, such as the USA Youth Futsal Association, to offer team development within already existing leagues. 

Utah Youth Soccer Association
Utah Women's Soccer Network

Provide a network of support for Utah women throughout their soccer journey through inspiration, empowerment, and leadership. 

Virginia Youth Soccer Association / Washington Youth Soccer
Get on the Bus

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

Wyoming Soccer Association
Play It Forward

Create a program that offers to cover the cost of coach education (up to a C license) and aims to recruit and retain a younger demographic of coaches (16-21 years of age) to foster a culture of giving back, leadership development and mentorship.