Positive Coaching Alliance is proud to announce Boston SCORES as our Partner of the Month

PCA recently met with Chief Development Officer Andy Crossley and Senior Program Manager Allison Pires from Boston SCORES to discuss the groundbreaking approach they are taking to provide Boston’s youth with access to high-quality youth sports and education. They shared the exciting partnership they have with the Salesian Boys and Girls Club to develop a soccer complex and training headquarters, which will allow them to double the amount of programming they offer to the city in years to come and deepen the training and education that coaches and mentors receive.  We also talked about our collaboration in a sports equity landscape analysis for Boston to further promote community collaboration to address systemic barriers to play…

Allison, we’d love to hear more about the Boston SCORES program model. Soccer poetry and civic engagement is a unique combination. 

A Washington, D.C. public school teacher with America Scores was looking for an after-school option for her students and they started with soccer and on days that it rained, she would do poetry with the kids as it was a personal passion of that teacher.

This fusion of poetry and soccer happened in 1994, which was the year the World Cup came to the United States for the first time and dollars were invested  in community organizations and philanthropy. 

Over time, the community service aspect got added to the program and in 1999 Boston became the first city outside of Washington, DC to start an America SCORES program, and we’re the second oldest city in what’s now a national network of affiliates. 

As the World Cup returns to the US in 2026, we’re reviving that part of our history and making sure people understand that sort of outpouring of philanthropy and attention and engagement that comes with having a huge global event in your country and city.

Andy, tell me more about the exciting new Project to significantly expand your footprint and programming.

Our new space is in East Boston, a neighborhood of the city which is very densely populated and doesn’t have a lot of green space. We’ve partnered with an existing Boys and Girls Club that occupies a decommissioned former parochial school campus and through our partnership we’re helping them renovate the interior of the club that they already occupy. That will make space for us to move our offices there and co-locate our non-profit alongside theirs. In addition, we will also be renovating the interior spaces to add some new classrooms with new technology which will allow us to do things like have the coach training institute Allison runs which can operate year round in space that we can control. 

The adjoining soccer park will have a full-sized soccer field lined exclusively for soccer, which will be one of the only ones in the city of Boston that doesn’t have lines for other sports.  There are  two smaller-sided fields next to it, a community garden, an outdoor classroom area, playground, picnic area, and walking track. This will all be space that we share with the Boys and Girls Club , and with a charter school that’s also on the campus, and we will also make the park available for community use.

I think something that PCA really understands is that one of the challenges of coach training is that we’ve been constantly reliant on whatever space we can beg, borrow, or steal from other people for training. Sometimes we’d have indoor space for coaching seminars, but no neighboring space for coaches to get outside on a field and role play and put technique into practice. Other times, we’d gather with coaches on an outdoor field, but had no space to go indoors to use technology, have lunch or if it rained.

There was always some big compromise or trade-off. So we will now have our new headquarters with a training space with all sorts of great modern technology and then we can step right outside the back door, walk across the street, and we’re on the field.  

This project is just a complete game changer in our offerings. We’ve traditionally served 1,500 kids a year in our program. Now we’ll be able to serve upwards of 3,000 kids a year. 

Andy, what is the timing?

We broke ground on the indoor renovations in December and those actually should finish up next month, and we should break ground on the outdoor portion probably later this spring.  It’s a 15 million dollar project and we’ve raised a little bit over 12 million dollars so far. We should be moved into the indoor part later this summer, and the entire project done in about a year. So it’s all coming together!

PCA works with so many organizations where space is a barrier and so it is really exciting to highlight the innovative approach you’ve taken to make programming more accessible for kids and to double the programming you can now offer.

Andy  – Yes, that idea of doubling programming is really the point of all we are doing with this partnership.   It is to serve twice as many kids as we serve now, because of the  huge unmet need. There was a study that was done a couple years ago that for every kid who’s in a free or low-cost after-school program in both the city of Boston but also statewide in Massachusetts, there’s three who are waiting to get into a program. Not just our program, but just programs in general. There’s the child-side need, which are things that are fun, that are well-run, consistent, and enjoyable, that kids can do for enrichment. And then there’s the parent side, which is “who’s gonna watch my kids?”.

Parents need a place to go from a pure daycare standpoint, which is so expensive, and our program’s totally free. Just to give people something that connects to the end of the school day is really important. 

You are expanding access,  providing a safe, and beautiful place for kids to be excited about and for the coaches to also feel safe in their environment where they’re coaching. 

Andy – I hope this new space is really going to enhance what we do with PCA and organizations like PCA.  That is really Allison’s area as our training director and the person who chooses partners and the mix of opportunities that will be offered to coaches and I think it’s going to be one of the best places in the city to offer training for the benefit of all sorts of organizations. Our hope is that it won’t just be our coaches who get trained there, but that PCA could come to us and say, for example, we want to do a session  with the state youth soccer association to do a program for soccer coaches all across the city. We would want it to  be at our facility. This is the best place to do it. This is where it should be.

When you go beyond your programs, it becomes an asset for the entire city and for coaches across the city. 

Allison –  I’m envisioning the space as creating access not just for our coaches and not only for the students but also for the adults that want to learn how to work better with students and want to see their kids have more opportunities. I feel like this new space is the answer for partners like PCA to deliver their content and enhance both child and adult learning.

How else will the space help with training?

Andy- Another thing we would like to be able to do with the new space is provide incentives for our coaches to get additional training. Our coaches aren’t volunteers and  are mostly teachers from the Boston Public School System who we pay an hourly wage. We’ve talked forever about how we would like coaches to be able to progress to higher levels of compensation by getting additional certifications and licenses. So a PCA Double Goal Coach certification might be a threshold which can unlock a higher wage for a coach. With our new space, we can offer periodic trainings so if you miss one, there’s another one on the calendar already that you can plan on attending .

Andy, can you tell me more about how Boston SCORES will be working with PCA and other community organizations with the sports equity landscape analysis for Boston? 

We’re really just learning about the Sports Equity Landscape for Boston effort.  We read about the collaboration with Dr. Joseph Cooper at UMass Boston which was announced in a PCA newsletter right around the time that we were breaking ground on our project. It  seemed like this sort of landscape survey was all about determining where the gaps exist and what are those gaps? What are the barriers that are keeping kids from having equitable access to these kinds of opportunities? And then what are some of the things that are being done or can be done to address them from a justice and equity standpoint? There’s definitely a big appetite for these kinds of conversations  and solutions amongst Boston’s sports based youth development programs.

We reached out to Rob Marcus at PCA to make sure he was aware of our East Boston Project because we think it speaks to a lot of the issues the task force will be dealing with. It can become a case study within the larger survey. This feels like an opportunity to get real academic, data-driven, underpinnings to support equity and access conversations we have here in Boston. I think it could really unlock discussions that are already happening informally here in the city and give some structure to them. Having worked with PCA for years, we’re eager to take part in the work. 

To learn more about Boston Scores visit https://www.bostonscores.org/