Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Why was America SCORES started? 

    • America SCORES was started in 1994 in Washington, DC by public school teacher Julie Kennedy, who noticed that her students had limited access to after-school activities. Ms Kennedy realized that the combination of two seemingly unrelated activities, poetry and soccer, complemented each other through mutual involvement in public performance, self-expression, and group support. The relationships that developed through teamwork and leadership on the soccer field translated to peer support in poetry workshops. The skills later allowed these poet-athletes to act as agents of change within their community through a variety of service-learning projects. The program quickly expanded throughout DC and, in 1999, Kennedy launched sites in Boston and Chicago. Today, America SCORES has a presence in 11 cities across the US and Canada: Bay Area, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Boston, New York, Seattle, Vancouver, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.

  • What are some of ASNY’s greatest accomplishments since its founding?  

    • Since our founding in 2001, ASNY has grown into three boroughs -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx-- and serve over 1,000 students annually. We also host New York City’s largest corporate soccer tournament, bringing together 600 employees from 40 of the country’s largest companies annually to fundraise for our poet-athletes and build awareness for our program. Starting in 2019, ASNY began crafting a Statement for Racial Equity and Social Justice that brings our commitment to advancing racial equity and standing all forms of oppression to the forefront.

  • Why soccer and poetry?

    • Founder Julie Kennedy would bring her poet-athletes inside when the weather was too bad for soccer and practice poetry with them. She found that soccer and poetry are a unique combination because both involve a level of vulnerability, bravery, and expression that make them a perfect pair. Our poet-athletes build teamwork on the field, trusting each other and themselves, so when they go into the classroom and begin to explore their feelings, they feel comfortable sharing them with each other and are able to truly use poetry as a means of healing.

  • What is your 2030 Vision Strategy and why do you need one?

    • Our Vision Strategy is: “America SCORES New York aims to be NYC's leader in social justice youth development through sport, self-expression, and community.”  By 2030, America SCORES New York wants to be one of the leading organizations for social change in NYC. We will continue to utilize our platforms of sports, poetry, and civic engagement, coupled with our focus on Social Justice Youth Development (SJYD)  to achieve that goal

  • Why is America SCORES New York best positioned to be NYC’s leader in SJYD?

    • Because of ASNY's community-based, multi-faceted unique program design, our social emotional learning foundation, and our academic and longitudinal data, we already have multiple avenues of opportunity with our young people that fit into the framework of SJYD.

  • What is SJYD?

    • SJYD suggests that although a young person may be doing well in school, have positive self-esteem and volunteer within their community if they lack an understanding of socio-political reality and are not provided with space to reimagine the world around them, they have not yet fully developed. SJYD seeks to increase the critical consciousness of young people; first by making them aware of the institutional, historical and systemic forces that may limit their opportunities; and then by leading them to collective action that focuses on changing these oppressive conditions (Ginwright & James, 2002). 

  • What is SEL?

    •  Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

  • What is SBYD?

    • SBYD is a subfield of youth development that focuses specifically on the positive development outcomes that can accompany an intentional, well-organized sports program (Edgework, 2010). Many scholars have explored the links that exist between positive youth development (PYD) and sports (Holt, 2007; Jones, Dunn, Holt, Sullivan, Philip, & Bloom, 2011). Further, SBYD has been examined as a useful tool for helping youth heal from complex trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (D’Andrea, Bergholz, Fortunato & Spinazzaloa, 2013; Kolk, 2015; Henley, 2005). 

  • Why isn’t your league competitive?

    • Rather than creating a structure of winners and losers, we look to create opportunities for growth. Focusing on being a committed teammate and leader better prepares young people for life off the field and outside the classroom. Using our SCORES 3.0 approach, we’re shifting our poet-athletes’ awareness to "Fair Play" points reflecting core values of teamwork, leadership, and commitment and how others demonstrate them, rather than focusing solely on the score of the game.

  • Why is poetry important for kids?

    • Now more than ever, our young people are experiencing high levels of stress and confusion due to school, the pandemic, systemic inequality, and the everyday stressors that come with being a young person. Through poetry, our poet-athletes are able to express those feelings while building trust and empathy with their teammates and coaches.

  • How do you involve the communities in your program?

    • America SCORES New York prioritizes community partnerships and engagement throughout large community events, relationships with local schools, CBOs and the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, and civic engagement projects in which our poet-athletes identify something they want to be changed in their community and exploring means to execute those plans.

  • What has ASNY been doing during the pandemic especially when schools are closed? 

    • When schools closed back in March 2020, America SCORES New York quickly shifted to an online space for our poet-athletes, running soccer and poetry sessions through Zoom, Google Classrooms, and Instagram Live. We continued this structure throughout the summer, focusing primarily on social justice alongside our soccer skills. Come the fall, we began running “Safe Play” Programming, a hybrid model that allowed for limited in-person play before programming was moved entirely online for the duration of the winter. We’re hopeful that, as we continue through the year, we will be able to join our poet-athletes on the fields safely to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.