What We Do

We Empower Youth, Parents & Communities

Our Approach

Play is a Game Changer

We believe that play has the power to make Chicago safer, more equitable, and more connected. Through a dual approach, we create safe spaces for youth, teens, and adults to develop social-emotional skills in fun team environments. By engaging youth in our programs and equipping adults with SEL-based coaching skills, we amplify the inherent power of play to develop youth as leaders and strengthen the social fabric of Chicago.

Continuum of Programming

We Teach Students to Hone Their Leadership Skills and Build Social Capital

Our Continuum of Programming starts with a foundation of social-emotional learning (SEL) for elementary schoolers on our soccer teams. As our students move into middle school, they join our leadership development and high school readiness program, where they serve as Team Captains on their school’s team and leaders for younger students. Captains participate in group mentoring sessions that build on social-emotional skills they learned in our elementary programs.

When they reach high school, we pair participants with mentors from Chicago’s professional community and host workshops that teach students the skills needed to succeed after high school. The program provides work-based learning opportunities that expose participants to diverse examples of success.

SEL Suite of Services

We Design Programs that Meet Our School Partners’ Needs

Designed for youth pre-K–8, the SEL suite of services builds a strong foundation of social-emotional learning through play. 

  • Out-of-school-time soccer
  • Summer sports camp
  • Recess during the school day

 21st Century Programming

We Invest in Chicago’s Educational Ecosystems

Over 20 years, we’ve seen the impact that play-based social-emotional learning can have on educational ecosystems, particularly Chicago Public Schools. We are a leader in youth programming in Chicago, and we partner with schools through the Community Schools Initiative to maximize the impact of their out-of-school time enrichment offerings. 

Adult programming

We Train Caring Adults to Be Impactful Youth Coaches

We invest heavily in training—not just for our own coaches, but for coaches across Chicago. Through a partnership with The Forum for Youth Investment & David P. Weikart Center—a nationally recognized leader in high quality youth development to foster social and emotional skills— we offer facilitated professional development (PD) workshops  to grow parents, guardians, teachers, school staff, and community participants as coaches prepared to organize and implement sports and play sessions for healing, connections, and resiliency.

Financial Overview

87% of Every Dollar Donated Goes Directly to Our Programs at Urban Initiatives

Urban Initiatives is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating in the state of Illinois. We put donations to work in programs for kids, parents, and coaches.