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A Nonprofit's Journey Through COVID: America SCORES

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

America SCORES is a national program that was started in 1994 by Julie Kennedy, a public-school teacher in Washington D.C. It has since expanded to 11 cities. “She took her students after school to play soccer and when it rained, would teach them to write and perform poetry. She realized it was the golden combination,” explains Sam Perlin, Executive Director of America SCORES Seattle.

“Kids and parents really love it. It provides an opportunity to get all the benefits of being on a team for free.” Sam goes on to say that the program has been shown to build cohesion in the community, help kids improve their physical fitness and perform better academically, and increase their self-esteem.

As with many nonprofits, this year has been especially challenging for America SCORES Seattle. With the closing of schools, they have struggled to reach the population they serve – 3rd-5th graders in underprivileged communities. “We serve the south end of Seattle and they’ve had a 40-50% attendance rate with virtual schooling. Principals are focused on getting the kids to school.”

Operating largely as a one-man operation, Sam has been using grant money to deliver knapsacks with balls and pumps included, to all the kids they serve. “They get some exercise as well as poetry activities to do. We want to get them somehow involved. That way when we get back in the schools, it will be easier in the spring when they join up.”

With the end of the year fast approaching, he is also launching a year-end campaign that he is hopeful will help in January when the nonprofit is typically cash poor. Beyond that, he is planning their first-ever virtual auction for next spring. Here, Sam admits the organization could use some help, both with the production side of things and the pre and post-event activities.

With the difficulties of adapting to new circumstances and a tighter budget than normal, America SCORES provides a picture of nonprofits straining under the pandemic. Still, Sam maintains optimism that with the proper planning, “when we do get back, it’s going to be better than ever.”

If you have experience with audiovisual production, marketing, event planning, or can volunteer in another capacity to help America SCORES Seattle, please contact Sam Perlin at

To help America SCORES Seattle reach its annual fundraising goals, please donate by visiting their NEDDIE profile.

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