Youth Development

America SCORES

aka America SCORES

New York, NY


America SCORES empowers students in under-served communities using soccer, writing, creative expression, and service-learning. With teamwork as the unifying value, America SCORES inspires youth to lead healthy lifestyles, be engaged students, and become agents of change in their communities.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Ms. Bethany Rubin Henderson

Main Address

520 Eighth Avenue 2nd Floor, 201C

New York, NY 10018 USA


After-School, Soccer, Poetry, Sports, Literacy, Service-Learning





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Soccer Clubs/Leagues (N64)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

America SCORES operates within the national context of fifteen million children who are left unsupervised after school, a time during which they are 49% more vulnerable to violence, danger, and crime. Twenty-three million children are overweight or obese, at risk of a wide range of immediate and long-term health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer while recess and physical education continue to experience cuts from public school priorities. Over six million children are dropping out of high school each year with third grade reading proficiency as a leading predictor of that fate or worse, prison.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

America SCORES

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

America SCORES inspires urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world. Our aim is that early interventions will reverse the trend of obesity- related illnesses, low literacy scores, and social-emotional wellbeing dysregulation disproportionately seen in children from low-income communities of color -- and will provide deep, trusting relationships with positive role models, peers, and schools for children most in need of surmounting achievement gaps to succeed in school and in life.

America SCORES harnesses the power of sports, arts, and service to propel physical health, social-emotional wellbeing, and academic outcomes for tens of thousands of children living in high-poverty urban neighborhoods across North America. We do so through an inviting, fun, innovative mix of arts, athletics, and academics -- delivered through FREE daily after school programs and summer camps. The program is team-oriented; kids join their school or rec center's SCORES team, and that entire team plays soccer together, writes and performs original poetry together, and designs and carries out neighborhood service projects together, all under the mentorship of teachers and local community members. Our program is not a la carte and not drop-in. Our holistic model requires that students attend all aspects of the program -- meaning that kids who join for soccer also benefit from the literacy programming and vice-versa. This team-based, whole-child approach increases impact and reinforces not only the skills developed but the habits and values of teamwork, leadership, and commitment, as well as both physical and social-emotional health. Because children typically do not come to our program for a season, they stay for years, we keep children connected to, and deeply engaged in school; improve attendance rates and academic achievement; and create contagious culture (a team celebrating athletic competition as well as artistic excellence). Finally, because we embed inside schools, our program influences not only our participants, but their coach-mentors (80% of whom are school teachers or school support staff doing second shift with us), peers, and families. Consequently, we are able to build and maintain a culture of health for a truly diverse set of children, their schools, and their communities. One result of our strategy is that we build team players. SCORES poet-athletes get 10 times more exercise than the national average. Post-program running tests show participants improve their fitness levels no matter where they start. Another result of our strategy is that we inspire self-expression. Our poet-athletes write more than 50,000 original works each year. Many have published poems in magazines and performed in spoken word events before audiences of hundreds. A third result of our strategy is that we create meaningful community change that extends far beyond the direct benefits to the participants. Last year alone, America SCORES teams designed and led over 300 service-learning projects to improve their neighborhoods. Collectively the teams contributed over 200,000 hours of volunteer work to their communities.

In 1994, Julie Kennedy, a public school teacher in Washington, DC, noticed that her 5th grade students lacked opportunities and activities during critical after-school hours. As an athlete and creative writer, Kennedy began teaching a group of 15 girls how to play soccer. When it got too cold for soccer, she offered the girls the chance to express themselves through poetry. Before too long, Ms. Kennedy had created what became the foundation for a national model that uses a team-based approach to connect students to physical fitness through soccer, self-expression through poetry, and a sense of community through service-learning. The America SCORES model expanded nationally in 1999 and combines these key elements every day after school for elementary and middle school students in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, DC, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Portland (OR), San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, St. Louis, and Vancouver (Canada). Because youth development needs and the out of school time sphere vary by locality, America SCORES takes a grassroots approach. All activities, including strategic direction-setting and strategic leadership, are led “by the network for the network” and our National Network President Bethany Rubin Henderson also serves as Executive Director of DC SCORES. Bethany, who holds a JD from Harvard Law School, has won multiple awards for nonprofit leadership and social innovation including being named a 2017 Washington Business Journal Nonprofit ED of the Year and a 2009 Echoing Green Fellow. The Library of Congress recently recognized our efforts and impact, naming America SCORES a 2018 Best Practice in Literacy Award winner - one of only 15 organizations in the country so honored. On the soccer side, the 2018 World Cup provided unique opportunities for our poet-athletes to take their skills to the world stage. Nine DC SCORES alumnae and two of their coaches were selected to represent the United States as the first-ever US women’s team to compete in the Street Child World Cup in Moscow (they placed 5th, beating host team Russia). Four Boston SCORES teens were selected to be part of the FIFA youth delegation. Other SCORES alumni and coaches traveled to Haiti, England, and Switzerland to participate in various invite-only youth development initiatives. Each of these experiences required our poet-athletes to draw not only on their soccer talent, but directly on both the literacy skills and the leadership habits they developed in SCORES. Our poet-athletes spoke publicly and gave media interviews, made presentations to international audiences about US youth culture and SCORES programming and curricula, wrote/performed original poetry, participated in local service projects, and collaborated on an international policy proposal for supporting children or are homeless or at risk of homelessness around the world.

America SCORES’s holistic mix of soccer, poetry, and service-learning benefits youth through concrete physical, social-emotional, and academic outcomes. Our key progress indicators are: (1) Participants will increase their school engagement; (2) Participants will increase their levels of physical fitness; and (3) Participants will express increased self-worth and sense of belonging. We use both quantitative and qualitative measures to assess progress, including nationally-recognized physical fitness assessments, school attendance and test score data when available, and participant, coach, and parent surveys. Evidence of Success: Our participants show statistically significant improvement from the beginning of our program year to the end in both physical fitness and BMI, seeing gains of approximately 30% in their cardiovascular capacity -- and report positive school engagement markers like a sense of belonging, having a trusted mentor, and a belief in academic self-competency.

America SCORES participants—85 percent of whom live below the poverty line—improve academically, increase physical fitness, and have a greater sense of confidence and belonging. Evaluations, national and local, show that America SCORES is a program that works: 97% of participants showed more self-confidence 85% of participants increased cardiovascular capacity 75% of participants improved grammar and writing mechanics However, perhaps the best way to understand America SCORES and its value is from the children themselves. Nahul, a college graduate who participated in America SCORES in Los Angeles, says “SCORES was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. It kept me away from the bad crowd and helped me focus on school and soccer. The time I spent created a new person and laid the foundation I needed to become who I am today. SCORES has provided opportunities for me to excel in school, on the field, and in the real world.” America SCORES is now embarking on a growth strategy. Even through both the number of children and number of partner school sites continues to grow in our 12 cities, many dozens of schools remain on our waitlists in those cities and we are experiencing increasing demand to expand to new cities. It costs between $25-$40K to expand to a new school site in an existing city and between $750K-$1M to launch a full program in a new city. Your support is crucial for America SCORES to continue meeting these growing needs. As part of that growth strategy, America SCORES also is focusing on enhancing coach training. Our curricula (which tie to both Common Core and nationally-recognized Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards) increase our coach-mentors’ flexibility and capacity to help students constructively process and respond to the big complex issues affecting their lives, including rapidly evolving activism movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter, gun control) and public policy (e.g. immigration, equal rights). Empowering our coach-mentors through enhanced, extended training (both in-person and virtual) will ensure both they and our poet-athletes remain highly-engaged, maximize the value of our recently-updated curricula, and spur a new generation of healthy, well-equipped change-agents.

External Reviews



America SCORES

Fiscal year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable