Gotham FC’s Midge Purce (center) Accepts ‘Soccer for Good’ Award at South Bronx United 2023 Annual Benefit. Photo by Graham Hartmann.

At South Bronx United’s 2023 Annual Benefit, the nonprofit organization that uses soccer to affect the lives of young people in the Bronx raised a total of $405,000.  Hundreds of donors filled a midtown Manhattan two-story loft in late November to support SBU’s soccer programs, including its efforts to provide academic support, college prep, mentoring, workforce development and immigration services to community members in need. After a short reception, South Bronx United honored some of its biggest supporters, including 2023 National Women’s Soccer League Champion and MVP Margaret ‘Midge’ Purce. The Gotham Football Club forward was presented with the Soccer for Good Award for her charitable endeavors and support of SBU. “I really think that my purpose is service,” Purce said after being presented with a trophy and South Bronx United jersey. “It’s been one of the greatest honors of my life so far to be able to work for South Bronx United and see the impact that we’ve had.” SBU has served the South Bronx since Executive Director Andrew So founded the organization in 2009. From Patterson Playground and Macombs Dam Park, South Bronx United holds recreational soccer games for preschoolers up to students aged 15, and runs an under-19 Global Youth League.  Along with its yearly fundraiser, South Bronx United supports its programs through donations through its website, selling SBU merchandise, its Clubhouse Cafe coffee brand and more. South Bronx United also honored Wall Street investor and longtime supporter Sina Toussi, who immigrated from Iran to the South Bronx as a child.  “I know firsthand that despite the rich cultural history of people from Europe, Africa, Latin America and from Iran, the Bronx grapples with a critical lack of resources and government support, which is why the presence of SBU in the heart of the South Bronx is so vital,” Toussi said during his honoree speech. Finally, SBU alumni and current NYU student Lesley Meron was honored for her leadership in the soccer program and her role as a social work intern for South Bronx United. “Through being in the classroom and on the soccer field, South Bronx United helped me grow and trust in my abilities,” Meron said. “It was through SBU where I found mentors who helped me academically and helped me apply for colleges, and coaches that helped me believe in myself.”

Magic Johnson Jersey Auctioned at South Bronx United 2023 Benefit. Photo by Graham Hartmann.

Along with funds raised through benefit ticket sales and a silent auction, various supporters offered generous donations to assist in South Bronx United’s current expansion project. Various supporters pledged $15,000 each to sponsor SBU’s new indoor mini-pitch, while others gave $10,000 to help fund the expanding SBU academy. A total of 1,600 youngsters from preschool to high school are reached annually by South Bronx United. Compared to a 65%  high school graduation rate in the South Bronx, the students aided by South Bronx United have a 100% graduation rate.  Additionally, 59% of SBU students complete Bachelor’s Degrees, compared to just 10% of students in the South Bronx as a whole.  For more information on South Bronx United, visit the program’s official website.

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