From the Pitch, To the Campus

Northside Youth Soccer gives low-income and at-risk youth the opportunity to play Club Soccer, now it's time for College exposure.

Photo of Moises Mendoza
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @northsideyouthsoccer

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

44% of our athletes will be the first to graduate high school in their families. Northside Youth Soccer has prepared its athletes since they were 8-10 years old, to be the teams that they are today. Now, at 14-16, these athletes lack the appropriate funding to showcase their athleticism, work-ethic, and teamwork at college showcase competitions. Enough funding to expose them to college soccer can pave their pathway to a college education.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

If the majority of our athletes came from families with a college background, I would not be striving to expose them to colleges, because they'd already have a clear pathway, or at least someone to guide them on their journey. But the reality is that 94% of our athletes will be first generation college students. This means that only 4 of our athletes come from a family with a Bachelor's degree or higher. That leaves a group of 50 athletes with no guidance other than myself and whatever support they can reach out to at their high schools. These 50 athletes don't know what they don't know. To them, not having guidance, a lead, or a clear pathway to college isn't a problem. BUT THAT'S THE PROBLEM! I'm committed to changing the course of their educational path, because to them, the road ends after high school. I want them to know that the everything they've worked tirelessly to acquire doesn't end after high school; they need to know that their talent can take them to roads that they've never seen. They can be the first in their families to attend college, all we need is to expose them to what their eyes have never seen, and what their ears have never heard.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

"I'm sorry m'ijo, we can't afford that, go play with your friends instead, it's free." Every year, every season, every time, it was always the same answer. As a kid, I dreamed of playing in a soccer team, I wanted to belong to a club, I wanted to compete and travel, I wanted to win, to lose, I wanted to know what it felt like to represent a crest on my chest. But I never got that opportunity. Coming from a farm worker family, where each paycheck was towards a designated bill, I never got the luxury to pay $1,500-$2,000 each season to play club soccer. That's why I took it upon myself to change that for younger generations. For 6 years now, we've been providing competitive club soccer to low-income youth, but now it's time to continue innovating. We've demonstrated that a family's income makes no difference on the soccer pitch, now we have to prove that it doesn't define their future.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Red jeans, oversized football cleats, and a flat soccer ball. That's what our most talented athlete was using when I first saw him play at a local Boys & Girls Club at the age of 9. This young boy came from a broken household, where his father wasn't around and only his mom to look over his older sister and younger brother. At the age of 12, this boy had to pack his things, say bye to his teammates, and leave the place he called home. Why? An eviction notice was at his door when he got home from school, for failure to pay rent. Teams lose players all the time for distinct reasons, but I wasn't going to let him leave over something he can't control. His family moved in with a friend about 1 hour away from us; so I committed to making the drive as many times as I could in order to keep him involved. He's 15 now. That drive feels a lot shorter now than it did before.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

There are thousands of non-profit soccer clubs and soccer programs throughout the nation and over 50 clubs just here in Oregon. All have a mission to provide quality resources for youth to embrace the game and have fun, but very few are composed of only volunteer coaches who strive to get their teams to compete at the highest levels. At Northside, our coaches (myself included), volunteer our time to make soccer affordable. Last season's cost was $300, uniforms included! We break this down into a 6 month payment plan and we do multiple fundraisers in order to knock the price down even more.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

What began as a team of 14 young kids learning to play soccer at a park, has expanded to an entire program of 54 athletes, all while still remaining the most affordable program to play competitive soccer in all of Salem. When it all began, I was the coach, team manager, and accountant. Now, 40 kids, and 2 teams later, we've expanded to a total coaching staff of 6, 3 team managers, and 1 program accountant. A staff of 10, all volunteers. One of our most experienced coaches has been coaching competitive soccer for 17 years and is the Captain at our local fire department. Out of 3 teams, we have had 1 state finalist, 1 state champion and 1 regional champion. This season only, 2 players have already made the local newspaper, one as a sophomore and another as a freshman. The talent is there, now we just need help putting them in front of college coaches.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The 2020 Winter season cannot come quicker! Northside has just affiliated itself with a local club from the area, which will multiply the amount of resources we currently have! Our athletes will now be able to practice on a turf facility during the winter evenings, we'll have a designated home field at a local high school, and our coaches will now have more growth opportunities with coach preparation courses offered by the club! Aside from our program expansion, our goal is to expose our athletes to at least 2 college showcase competitions. In the past, we have done fundraisers and have self-funded most of our trips, but that can only get us so far. This year we have already raised $1,750 from donations to use for our next showcase!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Public Relations

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shinchan Nohara

I am looking for some good blog sites for studying. I was searching over search engines and found your blog site. Well i like your high quality blog site design plus your posting abilities. Keep doing it.

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Hey Moises! This project is AWESOME. It’s inspiring to see how you’re providing low-income youth in your community with the opportunities you had dreamed of and expanding to include college showcase opportunities will be game-changing. As you’re looking to expand your marketing efforts, I’d suggest looking here: Keep up the amazing work.