Fundraisers, grant distributions highlight banner week for United for D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United for D.C. - the charitable arm of D.C. United - held two fundraisers during the final days of D.C. United's regular season, culminating the most successful year of the foundation's existence with the distribution of six grants to local charities serving a host of needy children and communities throughout the Washington, D.C., region. United for D.C. raised $4,100 at the foundation's second annual jersey auction day at RFK Stadium on Sunday evening. The organization hosted the Inagural United Awards Reception on Monday night, gathering an additional $18,000. At the event, United for D.C. honored the work of the Capital Area Food Bank, Niños Unidos of Montgomery County in Maryland, the Columbia Heights Youth Soccer League, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, the Joy of Sports Foundation and DC SCORES for their tremendous service to their community, providing the groups with a total of $25,000 in grant money to help them continue their work.

"United for D.C. is overwhelmed by the support it received in 2004," said Catherine Marquette, executive director of United for D.C. and community & fan relations director for D.C. United. "To be able to launch our grants program while expanding our other three signature initiatives - United Reads, Kicks for Kids and Make Sun Safety Your Goal - is an accomplishment of which we are quite proud. Due to the vast success of our fundraisers, we're in position to immediately make an impact at the start of the 2005 season, as well."

The Capital Area Food Bank, based in Washington, D.C., seeks primarily to feed the hungry with dignity. With low-income populations at the highest risk for obesity and obesity-related illnesses, the Capital Area Food Bank strives to address the root causes of unhealthy eating and hunger among those they serve. The $2,500 award from United for D.C. will enable the Capital Area Food Bank to develop and implement a soccer and physical fitness curriculum as part of its Food for Thought nutrition and fitness education program. Food for Thought teaches at-risk children in the Washington area the importance of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise in a healthy lifestyle. The six-week class will include interactive and hands-on activities on nutrition and soccer as well as an opportunity to attend a D.C. United soccer game.

Ninos Unidos' main mission is to provide financial assistance to disadvantaged and at-risk children, enabling them to attend after-school activities and summer camps. Its organizational efforts are concentrated in the areas of constructively shaping the futures of all youth who reside in Montgomery County through education, literacy and mentoring, focusing on strengthening the academic skills and proficiency level of students at-risk situations, increasing high school completion and setting them on the road to higher education. Niños Unidos helps youth build confidence, develop character and acquire the needed skills to grow into productive, civic-minded and responsible adults. Moreover, the group's athletic activities provide social settings and are outlets for youthful energies. With the $3,500 from United for D.C., Ninos Unidos will be able to purchase necessary uniforms and equipment for players to use during weekly practices and league games throughout the 50-week fall, winter and spring seasons.

The Columbia Heights Youth Soccer League, a part of the Latin American Youth Center, is based in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The Latin American Youth Center was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 1974 for the purpose of serving at-risk, immigrant Latino youth. Since its inception, the agency has grown from a small, grassroots recreation center primarily for Latino youth, to a nationally recognized, community-based, multicultural youth and family development organization. The LAYC's vision is of "a world with strong youth in strong families with strong futures." This vision feeds the LAYC's mission to support youth and families in their determination to live, work and study with dignity, hope and joy. The Columbia Heights Youth Soccer League is a year-round program that teaches low-income, immigrant and minority youth the fundamentals of soccer while working to improve their academic performance, physical fitness, and community involvement. With a $4,000 grant from United for D.C., almost 400 youth will participate in the league this year.

The Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children is dedicated to helping vulnerable children and their families get a happier, healthier start in life. Located in Rockville, Md., the center annually serves over 2,500 at-risk children and families from across Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia. The $5,000 grant from United for D.C. will be used to create a soccer program for children who attend the organization's special education day school. The soccer program will benefit children ages three through nine who have complex emotional and developmental problems, which interfere with their ability to learn in a traditional school setting or participate in regular youth sports. The program will employ the basic rules and playing of soccer, in conjunction with therapeutic techniques to help each child strengthen and develop the skills needed to succeed at home, in school and in their community.

Since 1989, the Joy of Sports Foundation has reached over 25,000 children across the country with soccer and other sports-based programs. Its mission is to inspire at-risk children to grow healthy in body, mind and spirit by teaching critical life success skills through sports and education. Using the positive power of sports and physical activity to support the healthy development of participating children, Joy of Sports provides its STAR Soccer programming to preschoolers in Northeast and Southeast Washington, D.C. Aided by its $5,000 grant and by partnering with D.C. United, Joy of Sports will be able to provide this program to an estimated 400 children, their parents and their care providers in the coming year.

DC SCORES, a creative writing and soccer after-school program that operates in 21 public elementary schools in Washington, DC, is celebrating its 10th year anniversary. DC SCORES was the first program of its kind and helped launch the national non-profit organization, America SCORES, now operating in 11 cities across the country. Currently a fall and spring program, DC SCORES, with the aid of this $5,000 grant from United for D.C., will pilot a year-round soccer component at its schools located in Ward 7, just East of RFK Stadium. For many of these kids, DC SCORES is the only access to the sport of soccer for these children, all of whom love it, demonstrate potential and need a safe and structured after-school program.

United for D.C.

The mission of United for D.C. is to service the Washington, D.C. community through the creation or support of programs, events and organizations that advance the educational and social welfare opportunities (primarily health and recreational) for the area's youth, particularly those who may be economically, physically or mentally disadvantaged.

United for D.C. is a 501(c)3 organization created from the desire of D.C. United of Major League Soccer to further the team's dedication to the Greater Washington, D.C. community. Founded in 2002, United for D.C. is committed to supporting programs and organizations falling within the organization's mission, thus giving back to the community that has supported the team so greatly since its inception in 1996.

For more information on United for D.C. and its programs or fundraising activities, please contact Catherine Marquette at (202) 587-5443 or visit