NYCFC are one of four professional teams that are up for the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year award ESPN hands out on an annual basis. They’re vying alongside the Denver Broncos (NFL), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) and Sacramento Kings (NBA), with this year’s ceremony part of the virtual ESPYS that’ll air June 21 on ESPN at 9 pm ET.
The Citzyens’ nomination ensures that their humanitarian efforts will result in a charitable donation, with the winner sending $100,000 to a qualified charity and all finalists directing $25,000 to a qualified charity. Each organization will also be featured on ESPN studio shows during the week of June 15, and NYCFC were named the Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Club of the Year presented by MLS WORKS in 2019.
NYCFC, in partnership with their City in the Community (CITC) foundation, delivers free health and STEM education programs to over 80 public schools and community-based organizations across New York City that serve over 5,000 youth annually. Another highlight is their Saturday Night Lights crime prevention program, which offers soccer during peak crime hours and provides academic support, as well as college and career pathways.
Further, NYCFC runs a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) that supports the training and development of community coaches, and they opened nine mini-pitches last year, contributing to the total of 29 pitches that they’ve built to date as part of New York City Soccer Initiative (NYCSI). Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, CITC adapted core programs to run virtually and helped donate over 143,000 meals to New York City communities in the South Bronx.
Should NYCFC win, it’d be the second straight year that an MLS club takes home the Sports Team Humanitarian of the Year Award. Last year’s version went to Chicago Fire FC, with NYCFC and Chicago both named finalists in 2017.
“ESPN recognizes that this year more than ever, athletes, teams and leagues have been leading the way in responding to the needs of communities across the country and the world,” Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship, said in a statement. “For six years, ESPN has been honored to telecast the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which highlights the impact that sports has to create social change, and we’re excited to carry that narrative through the ESPYS and our other platforms.”