For more than six years, the students in our Beacon Program at East Side Community High have been excelling in soccer and other after-school sports. We're four-time champions and our team numbers have skyrocketed from 10 the first year to nearly 50 today. As our team grew, our need for a proper practice field did, too. That's why we're thrilled to announce the groundbreaking for a new soccer pitch on the Lower East Side this week!
The pitch, located next to East Side Community High School, will be renovated by the end of summer and will be a mixed use park; the school and Beacon program will have exclusive use until 6 p.m. on school days, with the community gaining access in the evening and on weekends.
After diligently working together with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), our Program Director for Manhattan-based after-school, Beacon, and cornerstones Monique Flores and East Side Community High School's Principal Mark Federman were also able to secure financial assistance for the pitch from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the New York Red Bulls.
At the groundbreaking, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver spoke about the importance of having an open community space for programs that support young people. Also in attendance at the groundbreaking were Council Member Rosie Mendez, local Community Board Chair Gigi Li, the general manager of the New York Red Bulls Marc de Grandpre, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation Ed Foster-Simeon, Assistant Commissioner of Beacon, Cornerstone and Service Learning (DYCD) Darryl Ratray, and several of the New York Red Bulls' star players.
We're thrilled that the young people in our Beacon program - as well as the local community - will have a safe new space to practice their soccer skills every day.