We began as a small project that blossomed out the Cesar Chavez Library after a group of children were caught playing soccer inside the library. Staff took the group outside and after reaching out to the California State University Monterey Bay Service Learning Department for support, had a group of 50 committed little ones who loved soccer, each of whom lacked the financial means to play. From there CCFA was born with the vision of two CSUMB Service Learner college athletes who wanted to offer more.
Since 2011 the CCFA has successfully performed eight 10 week and five 12 week clinics. These clinics are bi-weekly soccer clinics for community youth at Cesar Chavez Park in Salinas. At these clinics boys and girls of ages 5 to 15 years old are taught the fundamentals of the game, but more importantly core values and life lessons through the game of fútbol. Snacks and waters are also provided to the kids at every clinic. All academy participants are given soccer gear to wear to establish a sense of team and community. The CCFA also provides serious, dedicated players within the area the opportunity to play for a high level team and receive high-quality coaching, training, and tutoring for free. In four years this program has served over 450 community children and families. CCFA currently offers five competitive teams, and has the goal to add girl teams to the academy within the next year. These teams are now affiliated with US Soccer allowing our student athlete the opportunity to compete with the highest caliber competition and be exposed to large pool of college athletic recruiters. We have competed in tournaments throughout Northern California, visited college campuses, and continue to register and expand higher education networking opportunities for our athletes and their families.
Grant funds will be used for general operating support of the academy in order to fulfill its mission and goal of using soccer as a motivational tool for academic performance and pursuing higher education. CCFA currently offers five academy traveling teams as well as 12 weeks of bi-weekly clinics, which are free soccer camps for any child in the Monterey County to come and participate and learn life skills through the game of soccer. Funding will be used to sustain our clinics program as well as fund the CCFA Academic Program. Along with equipment, registration/facility fees, uniforms, etc., funding will also be used for academic supplies and college/university visits in order to provide academic support and planning for attending college. Lastly, a portion of the funding will be used as stipends for the tutors and academic counselors who serve as role models and instructors for the children of the community, and provide the scholastic support to be successful for higher education.
The majority of the funding will go towards our Academic Program and ensuring our student- athletes are on the best possible track to a college university. Providing the academy members and their families with the academic and scholastic support needed to gain admission into college is our top priority. Other funding will go towards Field/Facility Fees and Snacks/Refreshments so we can establish set locations where our kids and families feel safe to participate, as well as provide the youth with the proper nutrition and hydration after playing soccer or studying. Another portion will go towards Registration Fees which will allow our teams to be a part of the US Club Soccer Foundation. We will also use funding for Uniforms/Clinic Shirts which will allow our youth to feel and be a part of a team and build unity within Monterey County. Funding will also be used to purchase Equipment necessary for practices and clinics, such as balls, cones, ladders, etc. Another portion will be devoted to College/University Visits and Academic Supplies; this will allow our academy members to take college visits and tours in order to give exposure and options of higher education institutions, as well as allow us to supply our tutors and students with the proper materials they need to learn and grow academically. Aside from the clinics and academy teams, CCFA is involved in helping other organizations and serving the community. The past two years in December, CCFA has held a Toy Drive where we served over 630 children and families and provided toys for the holiday season. With more funding, CCFA looks to expand in its number of participants, as well as hosting and participating in events which build confidence, community, and pride.
Our philosophy and approach centers around a common belief young people in our community have choices to make in how they define their lives, and recognize soccer is a foundational piece of many can build confidence and the skills to earn their spot at universities and college campuses throughout the nation. CCFA proudly honors the name of the Academy’s visionary, Cesar Chavez, who believed education and civic engagement built from the community up could transform systems and life outcomes for those who learn to think critically and engage with the world around them.
We are deliberate in who we identify to serve as volunteers and coaches, with a specific focus on the recruitment and retaining of college athletes who grew up in East Salinas. We understand the level of trust and power of a dynamic relationship in working with young people and their families in a community that has been underrepresented generationally. We work to incorporate leadership into every aspect of our service model, from bringing the student athletes to local government events to developing older athletes into volunteers and coaches for younger participants in our community clinics.
CCFA leadership is well aware of the educational and social climates in which our children and families experience, and because of that understand without patience and an unwavering sense of love and commitment there cannot be a positive transformational shift in their lives. We believe in being present in all aspects of our student athletes lives from attending graduation to being at their side through immigration or judicial struggle. It is our expectation that from leading by example our athletes will grow into young men and women with a strong sense of empathy and understanding of social justice that will allow them to think critical and become agents of change in the world around them.
Expected Program Outcomes
With our program, we foresee an increase in community dynamic and comfort. The program is designed to give low income children and families the opportunity to become part of a formal team, which has become family. Twice a week for 12 week spans, community children will be able to learn life skills through the game of soccer, but also form relationships and build trust and confidence in both their identities and that of Salinas and Monterey County. Because of the migrant schedule, many youth do not have the opportunity to participate in organized sports, but because this program offers multiple short sessions at times during the agriculture season when families do not travel to Yuma, in a span of 12 weeks a new perspective, a new love, and a new family is formed with soccer at the foundation. CCFA will also challenge the sociological norms of Salinas and the Latino dropout rate, by pushing our academy members to reach their full potential, and have the opportunity for higher education.
- Low-income children and families have the opportunity to become part of a formal team and compete in organized sport at the recreation and competitive levels.
- There is an increase in community dynamic and comfort across our agricultural communities.
- First generation and low-income students are A-G eligible and prepared for post-secondary education.
- Participants and families are provided workshops and informed with financial aid, FAFSA, DACA, financial literacy, and scholarships.
- Students attend college trips and tours to gain exposure and create a college going culture.
- NCAA student-athletes are knowledgeable on participating in NCAA sports in regards to recruitment, NCAA Eligibility Center, emailing coaches, official visits, and college level training.
- Participants enrich their lives by traveling and experiencing other cultural events.
- An alternate path is provided to youth who are at risk or suffer from gang violence.
Indication of Success
Tracking Student-Athlete Success
- Each student-athlete is on their own academic plan created with one of our Academic Advisers. Each student’s academic performance is monitored as well as submission of scholarships, FAFSA, SAT/ACT, and DACA. Post-secondary enrollment is confirmed through the National Student ClearingHouse.
- Surveys are administered at each workshop so we can track who is attending and then also get feedback on the impact and the content of the material being presented.
- Grade checks are required for all academy participants in order to be eligible to play and they must have a 2.5 GPA in order to participate in academy games and events. If a student does not meet this requirement, they are supported through study hall and Saturday school sessions at the Alisal Family Resource Center, as well as having weekly check-ins with their CCFA Academic Adviser.
At the end of the grant reporting period, CCFA will be able to identify and prove its successes in many different ways. The community will be a stronger and safer place for children to express themselves and learn about the importance of academics and education. Confidence, community, and pride will be established and spread throughout Monterey County and create unity among different cities and families. The two indicators of success are below:
- Improvement of grades and academics, increasing the number of students who hold above a 3.0 GPA
- The growth in the total number of participants at our community clinics and the number of academy teams we offer to the community
By having the youth in the community in the CCFA Academic Program requires them to perform better in school and understand the importance and power of education. And with the more participants we have in our program, we are able to share our knowledge and resources with more families, and increase their opportunities.
Our program monitors and measures its results in a variety of ways. The most critical of these indicators are the grade checks we require each of our academy team members to turn in, in order to be eligible for games and tournaments. Each player is required to have a 2.75 GPA to be considered eligible, and each player below a 3.0 GPA has required study hall hours until they raise their GPA. We also distribute bilingual parent/guardian surveys in order to get feedback and ask what it is they want for their child while participating in the program, as well as their desired end goal for their child’s participation in the program. Lastly, we measure the participation/attendance of community members in our academy. By this we are able to keep track of the age, sex, grade, what city they are from, and the overall number of participants we have in the program.
Monterey County suffers from issues such as; poverty, high dropout rates, gang violence, lack of positive role models, language barriers, childhood obesity, and lack of free and safe learning environments. The Cesar Chavez Futbol Academy (CCFA) addresses each of these issues, and develops more successful individuals and a stronger community. The Cesar Chavez Futbol academy is a 100% free option to play a sport recreationally and provide academic support and guidance in Monterey County. We use soccer as tool and incentive to perform better in school and reach for higher education. Our program provides bi-lingual instruction on the soccer field and in the classroom in order to accommodate and properly serve the large Latino demographic. The Latino population has the highest high school dropout rate in the country, and in the Monterey County the dropout rate has nearly doubled in comparison to their white peers recorded at 13.5% (California Department of Education 2012-2013). Of those dropping out in their secondary education 19.1% are English Learners, 14.2% are Economically Disadvantaged, and 12.3% are Migrant Students (California Department of Education 2012-2013). This demographic of students is the essential core of our participants and who we primarily serve. The Salinas Union High School District has 88% of its campuses placed under the State of California’s Project Improvement Plan (PI). Within our target area, 47.3% of the adult population has not completed a high school education. Over ninety one percent (91%) have not attained a baccalaureate degree, which is extremely high. When compared to the nation as a whole (71.2%), a clear portrait emerges of an area in severe need of Talent Search services. The level of education a person acquires correlates to a person’s prospect for employment, income, and an improved standard of living.
CCFA will address this demographic of people and these issues directly by providing instruction and support from directors/coaches/trainers who all have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and an understanding of the requirements to obtain higher education. Our program will significantly increase the enrollment of Latino students in colleges and universities, as each academy member understands and strives for the goal of going to a four year university and obtaining a degree. Most parents are not familiar with the college process and have not earned a high school diploma themselves, so we at CCFA provide guidance, as well as creating safe learning environments (for parents and students) for them to learn life skills and practice healthy lifestyles while working towards higher education.
- 88% of CCFA seniors attend a four year college or university AND 100% of CCFA seniors attend either a community college or four year university.
- 77% of CCFA parents attend college workshops and 100% of parents who attend workshops rate them as “very helpful” or “helpful”.
- 91% of CCFA participants have above a 2.75 GPA and 100% of academy participants are required to turn in monthly grade checks.