AO Impact reflects on first year

In September 2020, we launched AO Impact, the philanthropic arm of the American Outlaws. The goal is simple: to create a cultural shift for 2026 and beyond. The world will turn its attention to the U.S. for the 2026 World Cup — and by then, we want the world’s game to be America’s game. That kind of shift will make soccer open and accessible to all, which will change lives, uplift entire communities — and ultimately deliver success at the national team level.

Since then, we have accomplished so much. We’ve raised close to $60,000, sponsored five soccer-based nonprofit organizations across the country, and mobilized volunteers on a local level.

Some of the highlights for these programs include:

America SCORES Cleveland & AO Cleveland
As America SCORES soccer programs began to see an influx in participation, it became difficult to keep those youth properly equipped and outfitted. An AO Impact grant helped purchase items such as jerseys, shorts, socks, and shin guards. Studies show that children who participate in positive social groups and team sports are more resilient in facing negative social behaviors in school and throughout their lives. Jason Gilette, AO Cleveland chapter president, has been instrumental in leading members in volunteering at SCORES fundraising events, refereeing at a corporate tournament, and gathering school supply donations during U.S. gameday watch parties and events.  
Football for the World & AO Omaha
AO Omaha and an AO Impact grant helped fund the installation of a turf soccer field on Girls Inc.’s North Omaha campus. Now the primary practice space for more than 70 girls enrolled in Football for the World programming, the field serves as a safe space to play for youth in the heart of their neighborhood. The hope is that the project will be a catalyst for similar projects to be completed in Omaha and the state of Nebraska.  
  Open Field & AO Pittsburgh
An AO Impact grant has helped fund an Open Field project called “Empowering Refugee Girls Through Soccer.” The main activity was a Soccer + Life skills program for 50 refugee girls who live in diverse, low-resource neighborhoods. Led by female coach mentors, the all-girls program encourages a sense of ownership within youth participants, while promoting a safe space. AO Pittsburgh continues to help raise funds for Open Field and will hold an annual equipment drive.
  Over Under Initiative & AO Anderson
The Over Under Initiative has teamed up with AO Anderson, South Carolina, led by chapter President Brock Elder, to build a multi-sport court in Homeland Park. The court will enable local residents, mainly youth, to play sports together in a safe space in an underfunded community. A construction team broke ground in September and has made great progress on the project. Once complete, AO Anderson will organize a soccer program for local youth.  
  Pure Game & AO Inland Empire/AO Long Beach
Over the summer, AO Impact helped sponsor two Pure Game youth soccer tournaments, reaching 80 youth in Southern California. The tournaments focused on key life lessons in every match. With no referees during the games, the players learned how to resolve conflicts themselves through dialogue and compromise. Members from AO Inland Empire and AO Long Beach volunteered during a match day, helping facilitate dialogue with the camp-goers. There is still so much to accomplish as we move into 2022. In the next month, we hope to announce our next set of partnerships while engaging even more AO members state by state.
Interested in volunteering and helping AO Impact grow? Email Chris Reid at [email protected]. The future of American soccer is now. Consider donating today.
December 03, 2021