Major League Soccer announced on Thursday the finalists for the 2017 MLS Works Community MVP Contest presented by Wells Fargo. The Grand Prize winner will be honored on the field during halftime of the 2017 MLS All-Star Game in Chicago on August 2, and will receive a $25,000 donation for their selected charity.
MLS Works and Wells Fargo recognize individuals who use soccer as a tool to make a difference in their community. Throughout June, MLS fans had an opportunity to nominate individuals who are helping to build better communities. Twenty-two finalists have been selected, one from each MLS club.
MLS Works, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for League and club philanthropic programs. The organization seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS Works has helped to improve the communities where we live and play our games by executing programs and campaigns that focus on cancer research and treatment, anti-discrimination, community service, health and wellness, environmental sustainability and accessibility to soccer.
The finalists for this year’s community engagement awards were selected for making a positive impact in one of the following areas:
• Social issues focusing on inclusion, diversity and equality
• Health issues affecting men, women or children
• Community service for a local, national or international charitable organization
“MLS is committed to giving back to the communities where we live and play our games,” said JoAnn Neale, Chief Administrative & Social Responsibility Officer, MLS. “The Community MVP Contest provides an opportunity for us to support and recognize the efforts of inspiring fans who are devoted to impactful community work across North America.”
“We’re proud to present the MLS Works Community MVP Contest for the fifth consecutive year, and we salute all the nominees for their passion and support of local nonprofit organizations across the country,” said Gary Korotzer, Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing & Brand Strategy for Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo shares a deep commitment to supporting our local communities, and we believe when our communities thrive we can all be successful.”
Chris Solomons, representing the Chicago Fire, has been lauded for his work as Program Manager and Community Ambassador for YESsoccer. In 2016, Chris ran 600 individual free clinics across 5 different states, equaling nearly 2,000 hours of free clinics and programs for over 30,000 participants. Solomons has additionally dedicated free time to the Chicago Fire Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, as a volunteer for their P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer) Program.
The Houston Dynamo's finalist is Edgar Melchor, a volunteer at The FORGE for Families. After Dynamo midfielder Andrew Wenger ran his First Pass initiative at The FORGE this spring, Melchor has continued the after-school program teaching kids teamwork and accountability through soccer and classroom learning.