Player 22 Program to Evolve, Include Support for Player-led Small Businesses08.09.23
Angel City today announced the evolution of its Player 22 Program. It is now expanding beyond career education for female and non-binary former soccer players to include comprehensive support for small business development, including coaching, training, and funding.
Named in homage to the team's spring 2022 kickoff, the retirement of the No. 22 jersey, and the celebration of the 22 players on the pitch in every match, the program is designed to empower these athletes as they transition from professional players to successful careers off the field. In the coming weeks, each grant recipient will be announced via Angel City’s social media accounts.
The Player 22 Program aims to position players for success in new jobs or entrepreneurial endeavors after their retirement from soccer. By holistically investing in players' post-playing careers, the program furthers the progress towards gender equity in the industry, supports the development of women in sports, and addresses gender discrepancies in sports. ACFC is a women-led and mission-driven organization, and the Player 22 Program aligns perfectly with the club's values and its mission to drive more women into the business of sports.
To facilitate the program, Angel City FC has partnered with prominent organizations to administer various aspects of the program. The California Community Foundation oversees the grant and selection process for education, coaching, and licensing, while IFundWomen manages the grant and selection process for the small business development program.
Angel City FC's Player 22 Program consists of two core components:
Education/Coaching/Licensing: This part of the program, administered by the California Community Foundation, creates professional pathways for former soccer players interested in pursuing a career as they sunset out of their sport. Through the California Community Foundation, athletes can access opportunities to pursue professional education in coaching, refereeing, media, and front office roles, all aiming to prepare players for successful entry into the workforce following their professional careers.
One example is Athletes Redefined, a program led by Shannon Boxx that consists of a comprehensive one-day workshop spanning six hours, followed by an extensive 90-day period of personalized 1:1 coaching. Participants also gain membership to an online community platform. The ultimate outcome of this program is to help players find clarity around their professional goals, igniting a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment. Through this process, athletes will identify roles and industries that align with their passions, values, and strengths.
Small Business Grant Program: In partnership with IFundWomen, this program provides funding and resources to players interested in establishing or expanding their businesses. The objective is to equip players with the funds, resources, and coaching necessary to further develop opportunities for women in the workforce and to foster women-owned and -led businesses. Each player participating in this 12-month program will receive funding for their business, one-on-one coaching, and access to over 200 hours of video-based business learning, plus startup tools and resources via IFundWomen's workshop library. PNC Bank, an inaugural sponsor of ACFC and early supporter of the Player 22 Fund, will offer financial coaching and support to the player-entrepreneurs as part of the ACFC 10% Sponsorship model in collaboration with its Certified Women's Business Advocates (WBAs). Through its network of PNC-Certified WBAs, PNC will provide financial education and serve as a sounding board to support the entrepreneurs in the program. WBAs are men and women at PNC who are specially trained and passionate about accelerating women's financial equality.
"We are thrilled to announce the evolution of our Player 22 Program, which underscores our commitment to empowering female and non-binary athletes throughout their careers," said Chris Fajardo, Angel City FC Senior Director of Community Impact. "Through strategic partnerships and a multi-faceted approach, we provide athletes with the necessary tools, education, and funding to transition successfully into their subsequent careers. The continued support of our sponsors and the contributions from our dedicated fans and supporters allows us to make a meaningful impact in addressing gender inequities within the sports industry."
The program is primarily funded by proceeds from the Player 22 merchandise line available on AngelCity.com; PNC Bank, Johnnie Walker (founding spirits partner of Angel City Football Club), Payscale, and ComfyGo through the ACFC 10% Sponsorship model; and through direct donations to the fund by the public. ACFC plans to release a fresh 22-themed merchandise collection every year to sustain the program.
To learn more about Angel City FC's Player 22 Program and contribute to its mission, visit the following websites:
California Community Foundation P22 donation page: https://www.calfund.org/angel-city-fund/
PNC Women's Business Advocates: https://www.pnc.com/en/small-business/topics/women-in-business/women-business-advocates.html
ACFC Player 22 Program page: https://www.angelcity.com/club/player-22-program