Verde Leaders Kick Off 2023 Fall Season

ATXFC_20230316_VerdeLeadersCamp_CB108806 (4) (1)

For the last six years, 4ATX Foundation’s Verde Leaders program has been helping students develop the skills and community of support they need to thrive academically and personally through afterschool soccer training and community-based events.

Verde Leaders combines free on-site soccer with social-emotional learning, restorative practices, and mindfulness. The program returns this week to kick off its seventh year with the start of a 10-week fall season, including the opportunity to attend an Austin FC MLS match on October 4. Every participant will receive an adidas Verde Leaders jersey, and sessions will be held in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Austin and Afterschool Centers for Education (ACE Austin) at the following schools:

  • Burnet Middle School presented by DLA Piper and SolarWinds 
  • Dobie Middle School 
  • Webb Middle School 
  • Bedichek Middle School
  • Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy presented by Siete Foods

In its existence so far, Verde Leaders has served over 1,400 students. There are 32 Verde Leaders staff members, with four to six coaches on the field at each site and additional support from high school students in the Q2 Verde Youth Leadership Academy.

“With a new school year comes the chance to serve even more students and families,” said 4ATX Foundation Executive Director Kaitlin Mauro. “We’re very excited to build on the success of the program at our five partner schools while working to build the next generation of leaders through the power of soccer.”

Across the five schools the program serves, 86% percent of students are at-risk of dropping out of school, 94% qualify for public assistance, and 64% have limited English proficiency. Those numbers compare to district-wide averages of 51% at-risk, 51% qualifying for public assistance, and 29% with limited English proficiency.

Each year, students reflect on their experience in the program via a comprehensive survey. At the end of the 2023 spring season, 95% of students reported trying harder in school, 91% expressed feeling more connected to their community, and 95% said that Verde Leaders helped them feel more hopeful about their future.

One student from Dobie Middle School expressed, “I like everything about the program because it gives me opportunities to make new friends, learn new skills and improve in areas that I find difficult.”