The inspiration for ECI came about when its founder, Lauren Mednick, worked in an after-school program at a refugee resettlement agency. She was in charge of teaching first and second grade students; however, her classroom would regularly acquire a group of 4 rowdy seventh grade boys who were asked to leave their classroom due to poor behavior.
In the spring of 2007, Lauren started a recreational co-ed soccer team for middle school students and found that these 4 boys happened to be phenomenal soccer players and also gained confidence on the soccer field. These young men also began to respect their coach, Lauren, and would seek her out after they were let out of their class and request additional help on their homework. Ultimately, these boys who were receiving poor grades for the first three semesters of the year all made the honor roll for their final semester of seventh grade. At this point, Lauren realized the power that soccer could have as a source of confidence and motivation on these young men and others like them.
With her four former students in mind, Lauren founded ECI in 2008. These four students were ECI’s first members along with nine other middle school students who enjoyed soccer but needed access to educational opportunities.
From 2008 to the present ECI has followed one cohort of boys from the time that they were in 7th and 8th grade. These young men are now thriving college graduates making tremendous impacts in their community (along with all of the student-athletes in ECI’s first generation of students). They also act as inspirational mentors and role models to ECI’s younger generations of students.