Yanina Chicas’s delivery turned out to be pitch-perfect for the judges, and it wasn’t on the soccer pitch she loves at Lincoln Middle School.
Instead, the seventh-grader read a poem at Woodson High School — and took top honors. She was one of several Washington, D.C.-area students to compete in a poetry slam hosted by DC SCORES — an after-school program that blends soccer, poetry, presentation skills, and community service to change lives and inner-city neighborhoods.
“I have become more confident in who I am, and more effective on the field, and it’s helped me think about the community and what it is to be a good citizen,” Chicas said.
More than 2,200 third-through-eighth graders are becoming poet-athletes with help from Wells Fargo’s support of DC SCORES — a program also supported by Major League Soccer club D.C. United that operates in 55 locations throughout the area.
With her success, Chicas follows in the footsteps of another Lincoln grad and DC SCORES alumnus, Edwin Ordoñez — who emigrated to the U.S. at age 9 with his dad by swimming across the Rio Grande. He is now a first-generation college student at Princeton University on a full scholarship.
“DC SCORES was like a second family to me,” Ordoñez said of the program’s influence.
According to a DC SCORES survey, parents believe the program has helped their children learn more about poetry and creative writing (95 percent); improve their reading and math skills (81 percent); be more physically active (84 percent); and increase the amount of schoolwork they complete (88 percent). As a result, 92 percent of surveyed parents say their DC SCORES kids feel better about themselves, and their futures.
Saves for DC SCORES
As the official bank of Major League Soccer, Wells Fargo is providing financial and volunteer support for DC SCORES as one way to work alongside the league and its teams to improve communities.
Through a promotion called “Saves for DC SCORES,” Wells Fargo is donating $100 to DC SCORES for every save by a D.C. United goalkeeper. Fans can track the tally throughout the regular season on dcunited.com and the team’s social media posts.
Since its launch in 2015, Saves for DC SCORES has raised $16,900 for the program, which costs $1,000 per child to operate each year. Overall, Wells Fargo has provided volunteer support and more than $80,000 in grant funding to DC SCORES since 2004.
Howard McMillan, a senior financial advisor with the Wealth Brokerage Services group of Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management, is both donor and Finance Committee member on the DC SCORES Board of Directors.
“I have seen what this program means in the classroom, on the field, onstage and in the heart of our students,” McMillan said. “The highlight for me of my six years with DC SCORES was the poetry slam held in the board room of the New York Stock Exchange, and joining some of our students to ring the closing bell the following day. They are truly amazing, and inspire me.”
Soccer and service
The hallmark of the company’s community outreach is the national MLS WORKS Community MVP contest — where soccer fans vote on regional finalists from each team selected for their civic good deeds. The winner is named at the AT&T MLS All-Star Game and receives $10,000 for their favorite charity. The regional winners each get $1,000.
Wells Fargo and Major League Soccer also team up each year for an All-Star Day of Service community service blitz in the host city.