Street Soccer USA (SSUSA) believes ending poverty and homelessness is a team sport. Through a systematic approach, SSUSA builds community, trust, and well-being through sport with participants and volunteers, transforming the context within which they live from one of isolation, abuse, and marginalization, to one of community, purpose, and achievement. Our mission is to improve the lives of low income and homeless youth and young adults and to strengthen entire communities through sport for social change programs. In service to this mission, SSUSA:
- Delivers love, community, job skills, and practical aid to the homeless and impoverished leading to their long-term empowerment and self-reliance.
- Ensures the growth, strength, and capacity of the Street Soccer USA programs.
- Drives innovation in the ﬁelds of homeless services and poverty alleviation.
- Studies and addresses issues of employment/self‐efficiency, physical and mental health, substance abuse, poverty alleviation, and physical health for the low income and homeless populations as they relate to sport-based interventions.
- Unites communities around ending homeless and poverty through organizing and participating in sport for social change events such as the Street Soccer USA National Cup, City Cups and Leagues.
- Creates awareness around issues of poverty and homelessness through media stories, public speaking, and publishing opportunities.
In particular, SSUSA aims to improve the lives of participants by:
- Using the platform of the team to transfer life and job skills to participants through its sport base curriculum.
- Requiring participants to set 3-, 6-, and 12-month life goals.
- Empowering participants by marrying clinical services to sport programming and providing access to educational/employment opportunities through the SSUSA Jobs Academy.
After an initial pilot in 2007, SSUSA was launched as a new way to approach homelessness and its attendant issues. This relationship-based approach uses sport as a personal development tool, building community with a sports-focused and team-based structure that is positive and universally accessible. Participants receive a familial support group; at the same time, demands, expectations, and accountability are placed upon participants to spur their personal growth, physical health, and empowerment.
Specific SSUSA achievements include:
- Teaching 8 essential life and job skills to homeless men, women, teens, and adults in 18 US Cities through the SSUSA Curriculum.
- Providing equipment for 2000 program participants each year.
- Conducting training for 45 Street Soccer USA coaches and directors each year.
- Hosting the country’s premier Sport for Social Change Event, the Street Soccer USA Cup, involving 23 SSUSA program teams.
- Taking 8 men and 8 women abroad to compete in the 64-nation Homeless World Cup.
Since its inception, SSUSA has served 3,750 participants. It has grown into a national organization that oversees and supports individual Street Soccer City Programs across the country, managing and developing these City Programs in association with a mandatory accreditation process. Street Soccer USA trains staff and volunteers, provides equipment, shares best practices, provides ongoing technical assistance, and assists in the development of Jobs Academies in each region. Teams report monthly and file evaluations with SSUSA Central every 6 months. The National Program Director manages daily communication with the City Executive Directors. Team leaders in 16 cities participate in a conference call every six weeks.
The SSUSA central office is based in New York City and housed within HELP USA, a leading national non-proﬁt serving the homeless and a key SSUSA collaborator.