• Localizing Solutions with The Sanneh Foundation

    SDL Coach Nora Dooley shares her thoughts on our growing partnership with The Sanneh Foundation and our recent training in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    The United States and Haiti have a delicate relationship. From suspect political maneuvers to the post-disaster onslaught of NGOs ‘doing good’, I am often more convinced of the harm we have caused than the progress we have helped.

    This is a bit glass-half-empty, yes. But it comes from a place of concern. I am from the US (Boston, MA), and Haiti was the first ‘developing’ country I ever visited. I was there in 2012 and have been back twice with CAC in 2014 and 2015. I have been exposed to groups wanting so badly to ‘do good’ and actually causing harm, as well as organizations committed to long-term, locally sustainable, and the-US-does-not-know-best type of initiatives. One of the latter is led by The Sanneh Foundation (TSF).

    TSF is a non-profit based in the United States. They have programs running locally in Minnesota communities and internationally in Haiti with their Haitian Initiative (HI). CAC first began partnering with TSF in Haiti, running trainings for their HI coaches and supporting their work year-round from January 2014. We hit it off, so to speak, identifying early on that our passions and values lined up, laying the foundation for a great partnership. Later in 2014 we launched our On-Field relationship with the team in Minnesota, training TSF Dreamline leaders in CAC Self-Directed Learning methodology. Since its inception, the relationship has matured, exploring new ways to support TSF programs at home and abroad.

    Having personally led the Haiti trainings with HI for the past two years, I was excited to visit Minnesota (for the first time), learn more about TSF’s base, and work with this year’s batch of Dreamline coaches.

    The week was brilliant. I could not have asked for a better group of young leaders to teach and learn from; they were enthusiastic about life and education, they were intelligent and thirsty for new ideas, they were welcoming to an outsider (who kept championing the Patriots), and they were open and creative when asked to rise to various challenges.

    One of said challenges was particularly inspiring. Although we only had three days of training, the first two went so swimmingly that I decided to change the plan for the third and final day. Rather than continuing to teach new games to this group of coaches that was so sharp and quick in the uptake, I had them form small groups and come up with brand new games to teach each other about any social issue they chose. The outcome was – as we say where I’m from – wicked awesome. A couple groups chose to invent a game about the economic divide in the US and understanding privilege, others taught about bullying and discrimination, and still others about trust, leadership, and communicating to solve problems.

    My eager hope for this team of educators, a hope I share with the leaders of TSF, is that they continue to build off of this amazing creativity, sharing ideas with one another, inventing new games, and striving to find new solutions to the problems they see in their communities every day.

    My half-empty glass overflows when I get the chance to work with people like these Dreamline coaches. The Sanneh Foundation operates in the United States, and they have a project in Haiti. Their work sets a new standard for the relationship between the two countries; a standard centered on local people, with local knowledge, and local solutions. With a more complete picture of TSF, my excitement waxes for the future of our partnership, the promise of their projects, and the progress of the role our country is playing on fields foreign and domestic.


  • Back to School with The Sanneh Foundation

    August 25, 2014. For some people, being a professional soccer player who represented the United States in the 2002 World Cup would be enough of an accomplishment to relax in retirement. Tony Sanneh, however, has worked tirelessly to increase the impact of The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) that he founded in 2003. Our first partnership with TSF occurred in January in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the success of this first training, we have expanded our partnership to include working with their Dreamline Corps, which combines soccer and education in eight high schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

    This past week we worked with over two-dozen Dreamline and TSF coaches who will be implementing the Coaches Across Continents curriculum throughout the next school year. Dreamline looks to engage and energize underserved and under-engaged students so they take ownership of their own success in academics and life. They provide academic support during school hours, as well as an after-school enrichment program that includes sport where the coaches look to continue their work to increase student self-efficacy and leadership by integrating education and sport.

    It was an extremely intensive three days which included off-field theory on our Self-Directed Learning model which is based on our Chance to Choice philosophy as well as other talks on Child Rights, coaching skills, and monitoring & evaluation. Both On and Off-Field the coaches learned to allow players to “solve their problems” through experiential learning without the coaches immediately providing the answers.

    But On-Field provided the most fun and fireworks. The community of St. Paul and the schools in which TSF operates are very diverse, including recent immigrants (many from East Africa and Asia) as well as a broad mix of ethnicities. On the second day we played a game from our Peace Day Curriculum (free upon request) that addresses stereotypes by restricting specific players to various zones on the field. Besides the clear analogy between the soccer game and stereotyping, it led to an intensive discussion focusing on the current events happening in Ferguson, Missouri. In a civil but passionate discussion, various points of view were brought up. The biggest learning point however was that sport could teach On-Field and also stand as a catalyst for intense dialogue within a safe space off the soccer field.

    The school year begins in two weeks, and Coaches Across Continents is proud that our curriculum will be used in eight high schools around St. Paul (MN, USA) and in camps throughout the year that are hosted by The Sanneh Foundation. We look forward to our continued multi-nation partnership with TSF and the impact that Tony is having on both communities through his Foundation.

    Too Much Fun at TSF!

    Too Much Fun at TSF!

    A fun little tug of war

    A fun little tug of war