Sounders FC today announced its ongoing commitment to substantive social justice and reform with the launch of We Are All Sounders, an official club framework, rooted in core beliefs and focusing on four core arenas of change, that is set to guide organizational action now and in the future.
In the wake of the important awakening that the past months have brought to the surface of the country’s collective consciousness, Sounders FC has dedicated itself on every level of the club to work toward change that will have a real and lasting impact. Players, staff and club leadership, together with community partners, spent time this summer discussing issues and how to position the Rave Green to be part of positive change.
The outcome of these discussions has been the development of an official social justice framework, We Are All Sounders, which focuses on four arenas for change: fight racism, defend the right to play, stand for LGBTQ+ equality and protect our planet. Earlier this morning, the organization shared a letter to its Season Members on social media, detailing the framework’s renewed social impact strategy.
“This year has forced us all to look at the world anew – to face uncomfortable truths in our community and, in doing so, galvanize us to act,” said Sounders FC Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer. “As summer closes, the time for change is now. We want to change our community to be a more just and inclusive place to live. But we know that change, real systemic change, will require all of us – our entire Sounders FC family.”
Sounders FC is dedicated to remaining consistent and accountable to the community as it follows this new framework, and, as such, the organization recognizes that much of the comprehensive work will take time and continued discussion and development.
However, the Rave Green are still eagerly taking action more immediately, with a focus in the coming months on encouraging action surrounding voting and the census as well as the work of RAVE Foundation, the team’s charitable arm, in service of BIPOC youth in historically marginalized communities.
These efforts support Sounders FC’s core arenas of fighting racism and defending the right to play. Both voting measures and proper census count have a profound impact on making voices heard and creating a more just and equitable government, while RAVE Foundation works to alleviate the effects of systemic intergenerational bias in communities of color and ensures the right to play through its upcoming projects.
VOTING & CENSUS PROJECTS
Sounders FC believes that voting in every election is necessary to help bring about the changes that the club and community wish to see. Additionally, 2020 sees a rare opportunity with the convergence of both the general election and the census, which establishes congressional representation, informs hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, and provides critical data that is used to determine support and services to communities across the country.
As such, Sounders FC will move forward with a coordinated campaign to increase awareness surrounding both voting and filling out the census. The club has solidified partnerships with external local and statewide partners that it will collaborate with now and into odd-year elections, including Seattle Unite, the Washington Office of the Secretary of State, King County Elections and United Way of King County. Sounders FC will work with these partners, leaning on them for expertise in their areas while also utilizing the club’s platform for additional reach on these crucial topics.
Fans can visit SoundersFC.com/Vote to find links to complete their census, register to vote and sign up for election reminders.
Additionally, when tuning in to cheer on the Rave Green during upcoming home matches, fans will notice a special message on tarps in the stadium stands, used as a safety measure to ensure distancing from the field by any essential matchday staff or media members. The tarps will include a “Vote/Vota” design created by local artist, activist and app-developer, Teddy “Stat” Phillips.
Phillips currently works as an engineer at Microsoft but moonlights his passion as an artist by showcasing his work on Instagram (@StatTheArtist), where he is known for his powerful portraiture and use of color. He recently created a series of portraits honoring those killed unjustly, with his images being used at protests throughout the country. His work is also featured on the streets of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, where he was one of the artists involved with the BLACK LIVES MATTER street mural located on East Pine Street, providing artwork for the letter “I.”
As a passionate advocate for racial justice and an avid Sounders FC fan, Phillips is also the artist behind Sounders FC’s captain’s armband used during the recent MLS is Back Tournament, that featured support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Vote/Vota artwork found in-stadium will be visible on game broadcasts to further Sounders FC’s message of the importance of voting and it is also being converted into a shirt design.
Vote/Vota t-shirts will be available for purchase starting today at SoundersFC.com/Vote, with all proceeds benefitting the RAVE Foundation Community Youth Relief Fund, a vein of the club’s larger COVID-19 relief efforts that is set aside to specifically support youth in marginalized communities with their basic needs during the current health crisis.
Following the November general election, the club’s dedication to voting as a piece of its social justice framework will not end, as attention will be then be turned to 2021 and working with external partners to help increase odd-year election turnout. Odd-year elections historically see much lower turnout, especially in communities of color, though are often when many locally elected positions and ballot measures that have significant local impact are decided. Sounders FC is dedicated to increasing awareness and election turnout for these important races and measures.
As a second piece of immediate action within its We Are All Sounders social justice framework, Sounders FC will focus on its charitable arm, RAVE Foundation, which through its mission of service of BIPOC youth in historically marginalized communities both fights racism and defends the right to play, two of the club’s arenas for change.
This fall, as students return to school virtually, being physically active remains essential, but can be more difficult. For youth in many local communities, especially in BIPOC communities the systemic, intergenerational effects of racism has resulted in fewer safe places to play, the challenge to remain safe and active is even greater.
In the coming months RAVE Foundation will open four new mini pitches in BIPOC communities where youth have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and being displaced from school.
RAVE Foundation’s fields and mini pitches remove barriers for participation by providing places for kids to play freely, be physically active and safe, and to be inclusive stakeholders in their communities. The spaces opened by RAVE Foundation are unrentable by groups or teams, ensuring they remain open at all times for the communities that they serve.
The foundation’s flagship small field at Yesler Terrace Park in the heart of Seattle opened in 2018, followed by two mini pitches in 2019. RAVE is currently constructing three additional mini pitches in the region, with one more about to break ground. By the end of 2020 RAVE will have invested seven fields for free play in marginalized communities throughout Puget Sound. The newest mini pitches will be located in White Center, SeaTac, Des Moines and Renton, with further details regarding construction and opening dates forthcoming.
RAVE Foundation continues to reach youth through community organizations including Muslim Housing Services and Para Los Ninos with its ONE Ball program, which distributes high quality soccer balls to children throughout the region, with the belief that ownership of a soccer ball empowers activity and play. There have been 1700 balls distributed by RAVE since June – with more ball giveaways scheduled, including a partnership with Yakima school district and continuing collaboration with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Highline School District and throughout Kent, SeaTac and Tukwila in partnership with United Way of King County. Together with the King County Play Equity Coalition, which promotes healthy physical activity and free play in our region – regardless of race, gender, geography, and language spoken at home, RAVE is committed to centering its efforts to reopen parks and places for free play equitably and focused on communities where those opportunities are least accessible.
Fans interested in supporting RAVE Foundation’s work also have a unique opportunity to do so over the coming weeks. Gorilla FC, a Sounders FC supporter group, created limited-edition facemasks which will be available for purchase, benefitting RAVE Foundation’s work via the Community Youth Relief Fund.
The black mask features the word “EQUITY” printed across the front in large, bold lettering, with a small Sounders FC and Gorilla FC logo on the sides of the mask.
Masks can be purchased at SoundersFC.com/GFCEquityMasks or at any Sounders FC Pro Shop location. Quantities are limited, so interested fans should purchase a mask while supplies last. All proceeds will support RAVE Foundation’s Community Youth Relief Fund.
THE WORK CONTINUES
Along with these immediate action items, Sounders FC recognizes that this is only the beginning of the club’s journey. The core beliefs and arenas for change outlined in We Are All Sounders are the club’s framework to follow and build upon, starting now and stretching through the years to come.