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New Haven Organization Helps Immigrants & Refugees through Soccer

The Organization: Elm City Internationals (ECI)

The Mission: To help low-income children in New Haven, mostly immigrants and refugees, succeed in school and go on to college. The catalyst—the international sport of soccer.

The Story: Lauren Mednick was inspired to help refugee and immigrant youth in New Haven while working for a refugee relocation organization in 2008. She taught a first-grade classroom after graduating college, and helping in that room was a frequent consequence for teenagers who acted out. It was there Mednick met four young boys who would become the impetus for her efforts.

“Those four boys loved soccer, as did I. We bonded over that,” says Mednick. “That spring, I started a recreational soccer team through the agency I worked for. Their confidence really flourished. They started caring about school and life and people. That’s when I started my own nonprofit. The program I was working for lost funding, and I didn’t want to lose those kids.”

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