Soccer Ball 2021 was a virtual success!

Urban Initiatives’ most anticipated event of the year—the 2021 Soccer Ball presented by Allstate—was a great success! Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, we were still able to celebrate all of the challenges that we have overcome as a team, our incredible partners, awardees and friends and family who were able to join the team.

The event was hosted over Zoom and full of fun and celebration with all of our nearest and dearest. Thanks to the incredible editors and production crew at Optimus, the UI team was able to feature some exciting new videos during the event. We were especially proud to showcase our Approach Video, focused on our play-based social-emotional learning programming. In addition, we were thrilled to host some special guests for our “What SEL Means to Me” video, including President of Northern Trust, Pete Cherecwich; Illinois Deputy Governor for Education, Jesse Ruiz; President of Chicago Foundation for Women, Felicia Davis; and Chicago’s First Lady, Amy Eshleman. Thank you to the entire team who helped to make the presentation happen.

We also couldn’t have done the event without our generous sponsors and donors, who helped us to raise over $500,000 in support of our programming. We’d like to give a special shoutout to our Match Sponsor, William Blair, who matched up to $15,000 of donations made during the event. We’re also grateful to our auction donors, who helped to put together a fabulous sampling of items including a trip to Park City, Utah, an Exotic Car Racing Experience, Catalina Club Cubs Tickets, a Kayaking Adventure for 10 and much, much more. 

It wouldn’t be a Soccer Ball if we didn’t celebrate some of our most valuable partners. This year’s awardees were truly a special crew and we were so excited to sing their praises. IMC was awarded with the Soccer Ball Award for their dedication to UI’s programming through volunteerism, building soccer fields and supporting UI with over $2.5 million over the years. The Paula Armstrong Memorial Heart of a Champion Award was awarded to Solomon Barnett, who champions our work at Goethe Elementary School, is the Secretary of our Board and rallies the traders community through various events and support. Finally, we presented the Team Captain of the Year Award to Daisy S. from Lee Elementary for the enthusiasm, positivity and leadership that she exudes on and off the field. We are so proud to have been able to honor these three at the event.

We felt the energy, excitement and enthusiasm through our Zoom screens and even got to play an action-packed interactive game together. It was so fun to see everyone wearing their green scarves and showing their UI spirit in the chat. Thank you so much to our entire community for your support of not only the Soccer Ball but our programming that has helped to provide healing and resilience to the students of Chicago Public Schools. We are so grateful to have you on our team.

If you missed out on the fun, you can still make an impact! Donate at And don’t forget to save the date for next year’s Soccer Ball (hopefully in-person) on January 28, 2022!

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