2014 Prize Winner
His enthusiasm for what AC Portland provides kids is beyond compare. Its amazing to sit with Jared in a car while driving through one of the communities and listen to him talk your ear off about what work needs to be done to make the community better. He is the best ambassador for these kids and they really need someone to be that for them.
- Ben Dudley, executive director, AC Portland
As an eighth-grader, Jared Hoffman began playing soccer with Latino teenagers in his hometown on the Oregon coast. The familial way they got together for pickup games on weekends and their high level of play made Hoffman love the sport even more. So he quit all other sports for soccer.
His skills improved and his parents began driving him to Salem to play in clubs. But when he got there, it wasnt what he expected.
I realized the teams were made up of mostly affluent, Caucasian players, Hoffman says. Two or three kids from less cushioned backgrounds might earn a scholarship to join a team, according to Hoffman, but most others were left out.
Now, Hoffman, 26, is the program manager for AC Portland, which runs soccer, slam poetry and nutrition programming for kids in the metro area, especially in Portlands outer communities.
I do this work to highlight a lot of the people that we forget about, Hoffman says, noting that for low-income or immigrant families, access to sports is not always easy or equal.
Hoffman makes one thing clear: AC Portland doesnt look down on the kids in the communities they serve. Were not having a pity party for these people, he says. We really believe that these are some of the greatest assets in the city. We want to project that.
The energy and vibrant culture he finds in neighborhoods where AC Portland runs programs motivate Hoffman. His goal is to help expand Portlanders view of the city, and to help them recognize this community contains much more than good food, bike lanes and coffee shops.
Weve been really good at looking in and creating this cauldron of culture were comfortable with, Hoffman says. But we need to start being a little more uncomfortable and understanding the issues that people face. You cant just come here and think this is an oasis. Because its not, for a lot of people.
Bottom Line for Portland
Jared creates and facilitates afterschool soccer programming for more than 600 youth in the area, and has introduced a slam poetry component into AC Portlands curriculum. By Steph Barnhart
His prize was generously sponsored by Adidas.