As 2017 draws to a close, we’re looking back on everything your support has accomplished.

The past year has been filled with milestones, triumphs, and new goals. Your continued generosity enables us to stand beside youth on the front lines of HIV, AIDS, and malaria prevention and provide empowering lessons surrounding youth development, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence.

The following six highlights are only possible because of your belief in Grassroot Soccer (GRS) programming, so don’t be afraid to boast a bit: Share this post with your friends and family!

#1. More than 2 million youth have been inspired and empowered by Grassroot Soccer.

That’s right – 2 million! That means they’ve been ignited into action and are taking control of their health and future. By participating in our programs, they’re accessing essential health services, empowering themselves through education, and connecting with GRS Coaches at a time in their lives when mentors are most critical.

Image courtesy of Slingshot Media, 2017.

#2. Our SKILLZ Girl programming was recognized in a big way: We won a Classy Award! 

The Classy Awards is the largest awards ceremony of its kind recognizing excellence in social innovation. Selected from 100 finalists – and more than 3,600 applicants! – to become one of 10 winners, Grassroot Soccer took home a Classy Award at the annual ceremony. Read more about the win here.

2017 Classy Award Winners gather in front of the Finalists wall on June 15, 2017, in Boston, MA.

#3. You’re leveling the playing field for girls across the globe. 

At Grassroot Soccer, we’re on a persistent and tireless path toward total gender equity. If someone suggested that soccer is a sport for boys – and boys alone – GRS participants like Entle Lentore would quickly set the record straight. The 13-year-old SKILLZ Girl participant knows all too well what it’s like to be a girl thriving in a historically male-dominated sport. Read her story here.

SKILLZ Banyana participant Entle Lentore.

#4. You’re helping partners like  Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) prevent the transmission of malaria in over 100,000 youth. 

YEDI is a local, Nigerian-run NGO that empowers, educates, and inspires youth and communities using proven models or ideas modified for the Nigerian context. YEDI was founded in 2011 to pilot the West Africa Grassroot Soccer model – an initiative that has since been a roaring success. Take a peek at a powerful, GRS-centric photo essay published by YEDI in honor of World Malaria Day.

Hands In

#5. You’ve put Grassroot Soccer at the forefront of effective impact on adolescent health.

Whether it’s presenting at the Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Meeting, piloting an innovative new intervention in Uganda, joining in support of the Global Fund, or showcasing our approach to youth engagement to leading health advocates, your support is helping GRS to build strong support for our sport-based approach.

Image courtesy of Slingshot Media, 2017.

#6. Our 2016 World AIDS Day Gala raised more than $1.1 million for youth – and our next event is just around the corner! 

Stars, footballers, leaders in business, media, and philanthropy came together in London to support our work to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people in challenging circumstances to live healthier lives. Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager, said it best: “Throughout my career in football, it was important to me that I never stopped learning, yet Grassroot Soccer’s footballing lessons transcend the love of the game into areas far more important than sport […] Using football as a platform to educate, prevent its proliferation and save lives, is a cause that should unite the footballing community.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, Anastacia, and James Nesbitt at the 2016 Grassroot Soccer Gala.

With a new year on the horizon, we’re feeling bold in our convictions and animated by your support of adolescent health. We are tremendously grateful for your contributions and universally excited for all to come in the 2018. We hope you will join us!