The internationally popular sport of soccer — known as football, or fútbol, in the rest of the world — is all about bringing people together, on the soccer pitch as well as in the community.
In December 2017, soccer’s influence on Music City grew exponentially when Nashville was awarded a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion club. This club is now widely known as Nashville Soccer Club and giving back to the community is at the heart of this team.
Nashville SC’s commitment to the community aligns closely with Ingram Charities, which encompasses the philanthropy of the Ingram family and businesses.
One of Nashville SC’s first community activities was to establish the Nashville SC Community Fund at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Soon after, Nashville SC embarked on its first community endeavor – the construction of a mini soccer pitch at McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville.
To expand and strengthen its community impact, Nashville SC collaborates with local organizations and corporate partners.
“One great example of this is our partnership with the Delek Fund for Hope,” says Brandon Hill, Head of Community Engagement for Nashville SC. “We teamed up to provide grant funding to local nonprofit organizations.”
Established in 2018 at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville SC Community Fund supports charitable nonprofit organizations, often bringing in corporate partners such as Delek for support.
Established in 2008 at CFMT, the Delek Fund supports charities in communities in which Delek employees and customers live and work.
The partnership between Delek and Nashville includes the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S., GEODIS Park.
Located in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, about two miles south of downtown Nashville, the 30,000-seat stadium opened its gates on May 1st in front of a sold-out crowd. Delek helped provide funds for environmental efforts at the site.
The Nashville SC Community Fund prioritizes programs and initiatives in alignment with three impact areas: Youth Engagement, Health and Well-Being, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.\
Says Nashville SC’s Hill, “We designed the fund with input from our community partners so that our focus areas reflect the true values and goals of the city.”
Nashville SC’s community outreach includes supporting our neighbors in times of disaster. Two days after the team’s inaugural MLS home match in 2020, devastating tornadoes struck the Middle Tennessee community, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down.
“As a new club, it really spurred our staff and players, many of whom had just arrived in Nashville, to get involved and find ways they could make a difference,” Hill says of the concurrent disasters. “It shaped our approach of being deeply engaged with our community partners and laser-focused on how we could best leverage our resources to support the community’s collaborative goals.”
The team added to the recovery response by launching the NGUOY (Never Give Up On You) fundraising campaign, named after the club’s anthem, created in collaboration with Nashville-based alternative rock band Judah & the Lion. (The band also has a fund with CFMT, The High Five Squad Fund to encourage the expression of kindness and goodness to everyone.) The NGUOY campaign would eventually raise more than $37,000 to support local tornado relief and recovery efforts via CFMT’s Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund and the American Red Cross.
Raising awareness of environmental issues is another priority for the club. Along with Major League Soccer’s annual Greener Goals campaign, Nashville SC and all other MLS clubs have committed to volunteer their time to conduct environmentally friendly projects in partnership with local charitable and nonprofit organizations.
“One of the easiest and most impactful things you can do to help the environment is to plant a tree,” Hill says.
“That’s why we’ve partnered with Root Nashville, a public-private campaign led by Metro Nashville and the Cumberland River Compact, to support their campaign to plant half a million trees across Middle Tennessee by the year 2050.”
Each year, Nashville SC has kicked off its season by hosting “The Road to Opening Match Day of Service,” a tree-planting event that has engaged thousands of fans and supporters.
“We believe this will inspire others,” Hill says, “to join the campaign to plant as many trees as possible across Nashville.”
Learn more about the Nashville SC Community Fund and its community efforts at www.nashvillesc.com/community.