Co-Founder of Grassroot Soccer, global non-profit for social change
As an athlete, Ethan knew the unparalleled power of sport as an agent for social change. Soccer is the world’s most popular game with the capacity to be a common language among diverse cultures. Ethan’s own experience in Africa as a professional soccer player, and later as a contestant on Survivor: Africa, exposed him to the challenges facing youth in the developing world, including unemployment, gender inequality and HIV/AIDS. Fresh off his victory on Survivor: Africa, Ethan was determined use his prize winnings for something bigger than himself.
GRASSROOT SOCCER (GRS) WAS BORN.
GRS, which Ethan co-founded in 2002, is a global non-profit that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV. It uses three primary tactics: 1) Grow and improve its “Skillz” program, a unique life skill building curriculum that focuses on healthy decision making and education; 2) Share and expand its curriculum withimplementing partners to grow sustainably while making use of existing local capacity and infrastructure; and 3) Empower local role models (professional soccer players, youth sports coaches, teachers, mentors and more) with the tools to educate the youth in their own communities.
Grassroot Soccer (GRS) is an adolescent health organization that educates, inspires and mobilizes young people to overcome their greatest health challenges and live healthier, more productive lives.
Primarily focused in sub-Saharan Africa, Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to connect young people with the mentors, information and health services they need to thrive. GRS’s evidence-based programs, led by trained local Caring Coaches, incorporate soccer into dynamic lessons about health and wellness that engage young people and break down cultural barriers.
In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, adolescents face significant risks to their health and well-being, but too often lack information and support to access much-needed health services. Adolescents are among the most underserved populations around issues of disease, poverty and violence.
GRS empowers young people to make educated choices about pressing health challenges including HIV/AIDS, sexual health, gender-based violence and malaria. This work has ripple effects – empowered and informed young people become leaders who make a positive impact on their peers and build healthier communities.
GRS has supported over 1.3 million youth in nearly 50 countries to take proactive steps to protect their health and become role models in their communities.
Ragball International is a unique social enterprise, in which young people create handmade soccer balls from recycled materials (ragballs) in exchange for a fair wage and an innovative financial education programme. Using the international language of soccer, we have created an interactive, soccer-based curriculum to help young people save and spend wisely, set financial goals, and plan for their futures.