The second annual MLS All-Star Hometown Heroes Showcase presented by RBC Wealth Management and in collaboration with Black Players for Change and D.C. United, recognizes four impactful organizations making positive change in the communities of the District of Columbia. The program also recognizes an Honorary Hero that positively impacts the local community through soccer.
2023 MLS All-Star Hometown Heroes presented by RBC Wealth Management
- Selection Criteria: The organization must have a record of community impact embodying D.C. United’s community values of Empowerment, Opportunity and Service serving the District of Columbia region. The primary leader of the organization must be from one of the following underrepresented groups: Asian or Pacific Islander, Arab or Middle Eastern, Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, Native American, or People with disabilities.
- Selection Committee: The Hometown Heroes were selected by a committee consisting of D.C. United/Black Players for Change athletes Chris Durkin (he/him), Steve Birnbaum (he/him), and Donovan Pines (he/him), D.C. United stakeholders that included President of Business Operations, Danita Johnson (she/her); MLS EVP, Commissioner’s Office and Chief DEI Officer, Sola Winley (he/him) and RBC Wealth Management representative, Beth Rafferty (she/her).
2023 MLS All-Star Hometown Heroes Honorees
presented by RBC Wealth Management
Latin American Youth Center, Lupi Quinteros-Grady (she/her), President and CEO
The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) empowers a diverse population of youth to achieve a successful transition to adulthood through multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs. Since our founding in the late 1960s, LAYC has grown from a small grassroots recreation center into a nationally recognized agency serving all low-income youth. Each year LAYC serves over 4,000 youth and families through youth centers, school-based sites, and public charter schools in the District of Columbia and Maryland’s Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties as the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC). We believe in a future where all youth pursue their dreams, reach their goals, and acquire the skills and self-confidence to live a life of purpose, connection, contribution, and joy.
Rainbow Families, Darren Paul-Vance (he/him), Executive Director
For over 40 years, Rainbow Families DC has provided education programs, support services, resources and opportunities to connect for LGBTQ+ parents, prospective parents and families. As a small, grassroots non profit, Rainbow Families provides an extensive array of services – all thanks to loyal, selfless volunteers. Rainbow Families offers ten monthly support groups, pathways to parenthood courses such as Maybe Baby, a Legal Talk series, an annual Family Conference, plus empowering family gatherings such as their Family Camping Weekend, ball game outings, playdates, picnics and more. Services are offered both virtually and in-person.
So Kids Soar (formerly Dreams for Kids), Glenda Fu Smith (she/her), Executive Director
So Kids SOAR (SKS, formerly Dreams For Kids DC), a not-for-profit section 501©(3), provides life-changing programs that empower youth with physical and developmental disabilities to Strive, Own, Achieve and Realize their potential. We enable participants to SOAR through a suite of adaptive programming that includes athletic, recreational, and skill-building activities. The self-confidence and skills gained through these programs inspire each child to realize that their disability will not prevent them from fulfilling their potential. Visit sokidssoar.org for more information.
We’re Empowered to Achieve the impossible (WETATi Academy), Dr. Margaret Dureke (she/her), Founder, President and Executive Director
We’re Empowered to Achieve the impossible is a nonprofit that provides world-class enrichment for students anywhere through our Practical Entrepreneurship Education Program. Practical: educate low to moderate-income students through practical and experiential activities that prepare for employment, future economic opportunities & entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship: Economic empowerment through equitable access to employment and job creation. Education: An in-depth breakdown in the key things you’ll need in real life. Broken down into detailed, doable, digestible lessons and sessions.
Sola Winley (he/him), EVP Commissioner’s Office, and MLS Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
Quincy Amarikwa, Founder, Black Players For Change (BPC)
Beth Rafferty, RBC Wealth Management branch director in Washington, D.C.
“As a native Washingtonian, I’m proud to honor these grassroots organizations and the work they do every day to help our neighbors thrive. Making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work is a cornerstone of the culture at RBC Wealth Management. The MLS Hometown Heroes embody that value of social responsibility, striving to make the District of Columbia an equitable and inclusive place for all.”
What Hometown Heroes Are Saying:
Lupi Quinteros-Grady, President and CEO of Latin American Youth Center
“As someone who grew up in the Washington DC area and represents the organization that helped me get to the place I am today, being recognized as an MLS All-Star Hometown Hero is truly an honor. It allows me to showcase the positive work being done in the community and hopefully inspire others as it has inspired me. On behalf of my entire team, and as someone who represents the organization that helped me get to where I am today, LAYC’s recognition as an MLS All-Star Hometown Hero is truly an honor. It allows our team to showcase the positive work being done in the community and hopefully inspire others as it has inspired me to dream big.”
Dr. Margaret Dureke, We’re Empowered to Achieve the Impossible (WETATi)
“Our mission of educating and empowering low to moderate income students (11-25) year old, on how to become financially independent through our program ‘practical entrepreneurship education’ is a difficult one to accomplish but, with support from progressive organizations like MLS it’s more than possible. For this we are eternally grateful.
Glenda Fu Smith, Executive Director of So Kids Soar (formerly Dreams for Kids)
“Being an MLS All-Star Hometown Hero means ensuring that your community is seen and heard; and being the conduit through which their stories are shared and honored. I believe that every person has an important story to share and contribution to make to this world– and my hope is that I can help them realize their importance,”
Darren Paul-Vance, Executive Director, Rainbow Families
“It is a tremendous honor for Rainbow Families DC to be selected as an MLS All-Star Hometown Hero. Especially as a lean, grassroots nonprofit, this recognition and support will assist us in carrying out our mission to educate, support, and connect LGBTQ+ families, parents and prospective parents by offering a wide variety of education programs and support groups in the D.C. Metropolitan area. Rainbow Families envisions and strives for a nation where all LGBTQ+ families can legally, openly and safely live in full equality. We are grateful for the MLS community’s support to help make that vision a reality.”
What MLS’ Honorary Hometown Heroes Are Saying
Keith Tucker, former Howard University Men’s Soccer Coach
Phillip Gyau, current Howard University Men’s Soccer Coach
We were honored to be a part of @mls @BPCMLS All Star Week yesterday, where we celebrated @sokidssoar being a Hometown Hero! As we grow, our hearts and capacity to give increase as well. see the incredible things we are supporting through our #charitable initiatives. pic.twitter.com/NhMzUxManN— Panda Exteriors (@PandaExteriors) July 19, 2023
. @MLS Commissioner @thesoccerdon on #MLSAllStar DC Hometown Heroes: these are the “true unsung heroes” who are engaged in the community “because it matters” They will each receive a $15,000 grant. 🙌 @sokidssoar @Wetati @THELAYC @ourrainbowfams @howardMsoccer S/O @BPCMLS ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/VRUDZO8VJs— Mandy N. Murphy (@mandynmurphy) July 18, 2023
COS at @BPCMLS All Star Event— Coastal (@coastaloutreach) July 19, 2023
Black Player for Change MLS Hometown Heroes honoring the legendary Coach Lincoln Phillips who led Howard University to NCAA Soccer Men Championship in 1971 and 1974. #cosopportunity @HowardU @CityofBrunswick @ATLUTD pic.twitter.com/eKcoe6yKsZ
WETATi has been chosen as one of the 2023 All-Star Hometown Heroes! This huge honor recognizes the amazing work that WETATi and its leaders have done to make positive changes in the District of Columbia communities.— WETATi (@Wetati) July 19, 2023
Thank you @RBCwealth @dcunited @MLS and @BPCMLS ! pic.twitter.com/snBjOYUVuZ