Stay in the Game! Columbus Crew unveil 2023 MLS Cup Legacy Project 


As hosts of MLS Cup 2023 presented by Audi, the Columbus Crew have partnered with Major League Soccer and Columbus City Schools to introduce the Stay in the Game! initiative to promote the importance of school attendance.

The first of five planned Stay in the Game! rooms was unveiled Friday morning at Starling PreK-8 School in Columbus, where club legends Dante Washington and Frankie Hejduk were among those who participated in the ceremony held a day before the Crew take on LAFC at Field for the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.

Offering creative and engaging spaces designed to motivate and reward students for consistent and improved school attendance, this Stay in the Game! room features a multi-sensory environment that promotes opportunities for movement and relaxation.

Up to 529 students at Starling PreK-8 School, many of whom are dealing with high levels of trauma, will benefit from the room.

Improved attendance has broad-based benefits, including engaged learning, mental health and positive impacts on families and communities.

Crew Legacy Project

Ohio faces a critical challenge with chronic absenteeism among students, which significantly impacts their academic and future success. Some 30% of Ohio students miss almost 20 days of school a year, and research shows missing just two days a month can leave kids trailing on foundational learning and social skills. Studies also show students who are not chronically absent are nine times more likely to graduate high school on time and nearly seven times more likely to read on grade level by third grade.

An additional study by Harvard University found a correlation between extreme temperatures and low attendance rates. The impact of weather-related absences was twice as large for students from low-income families, with Black and Hispanic students being disproportionately affected. Low-income students are more likely to depend on public transit or walking to get to school, both of which can be easily disrupted by cold Ohio weather.

To address this issue, adidas will donate new winter jackets for Starling Spartan students.

The Stay in the Game! room at Starling Elementary is the first in a series planned across the five Columbus City Schools regions over the next season. By partnering with the largest school district in the state, the Crew have underscored their long-term commitment to the cause of improving student attendance.

In their first year as a SITG! partner, Columbus City School District (CCS) decreased their chronic absenteeism rate by more than 7% (2022 vs. 2023). Each 'Stay in the Game!' room will be tailored to create a positive and motivational environment for diverse students in the district.