CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Project GOAL has bigger goals in mind than just teaching kids how to put the soccer ball in the back of the net.  The non-profit coeducational after-school initiative for middle school youth aims to set kids up for success in life through academic enrichment, mentoring, and the positive power of soccer training.

Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed teamed up with Project GOAL (Greater Opportunity for Athletes to Learn) to celebrate a $100,000 federal earmark to double the program’s capacity to support students and offer free after-school tutoring and soccer-related programs to eighty more underserved middle-school students.  Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, secured the federal funding in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations law.

Senator Reed, along with Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera, Calcutt Middle School Principal Katie Marcotte, and Project GOAL’s Executive Director and co-founder Darius Shirzadi, visited with Project GOAL’s students – many of whom have parents who immigrated to the United States and work long hours to make ends meet – and their accredited teachers as they finished up their school work and then hit the mini-pitch to receive instruction from licensed soccer coaches.

During today’s tour, which was led by Project GOAL co-founders Peter Whealton and Javier Centeno, who is also the Dean of Students at Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls, Senator Reed and Mayor Rivera saw firsthand how Project GOAL offers participants 90 minutes of academic enrichment which in turn earns 90 minutes of soccer training (which took place indoors today, due to rain).  In both settings there is a strong focus on accountability and responsibility, with students working towards academic and athletic goals and making responsible decisions and being supportive community members.

“Project GOAL gives every student a chance to learn, play, and be part of a team, regardless of their socioeconomic status.  It’s a terrific mentoring program that helps kids boost their academic engagement in the classroom and offers them a chance to have fun, get exercise, and hone their soccer skills,” said Senator Reed. “I’ve been a big fan of Project GOAL because I see the positive impact it has in the community.  Darius and his team at Project GOAL offer these kids opportunity, motivation, and encouragement.  They work overtime with the dedicated teachers and staff at Calcutt Middle School to help kids achieve their goals.  Over the course of the school year, you see real improvement in the classroom and teamwork on the field paying off.  Kids become better soccer players, and also develop those teamwork, leadership, communication, and life skills that help them succeed.”

“We are very honored to have been supported for this federal funding by Senator Reed.  The Senator has been an advocate for Project GOAL over many years, as has Mayor Rivera and the leadership of the City of Central Falls.  We hope to start this expansion to Providence and grow our presence there for many years to impact the lives of students and their families,” said Darius Shirzadi, Executive Director/Co-Founder of Project GOAL & 2018 Recipient of FIFA Football For Hope Award.

“I’m grateful to Senator Reed for securing this funding to expand Project GOAL’s ability to serve Central Falls students,” said Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera. “Making sure our youth have access to the support and mentors they need is critical to keeping our city strong. Project GOAL is there for our kids, helping them build the life skills they need, a strong educational foundation and a sense of pride and teamwork.”

Project GOAL, a non-profit founded in 2004, inspires academic achievement through the passion and power of soccer.  The program meets twice a week after school.  The program has a proven track record of helping kids achieve and exceed grade level proficiency while building a foundation of social responsibility and teamwork.

This federal funding will help Project GOAL expand its free coeducational, academic, tutoring, and mentoring initiative.  The non-profit will offer award-winning after school programming to 80 new students in Central Falls and Providence as well as from other underserved areas of the state.