From left: Jim O’Connor, William Blair head of venture capital at William Blair, and Laura Coy, William Blair director of community engagement, at the Urban Initiatives 5th anniversary “Work to Play Cup” event June 3.

William Blair was presented the 2017 Most Valuable Partner Award by Urban Initiatives, a Chicago-based youth soccer organization, at its 5th anniversary “Work to Play Cup” celebration on June 3.

The award recognizes the firm’s support of academic success, healthy living, and leadership development for Chicago youth.

The annual event showcases Urban Initiatives’ innovative programs Work to Play and Take the Lead, which use participation on a school soccer team to motivate children to adopt healthy lifestyles, develop character, reach higher academic achievement, and form the leadership skills valued in neighborhoods and communities.

More than 2,000 people attended the event including students from kindergarten through 8th grade, family members, and community supporters. Games and community-building activities continued all day on the University of Chicago campus.

Urban Initiatives is one of William Blair’s current community partners which the firm supports financially and by staff volunteering their time to mentor students. Investing in communities is a legacy inherited from founder William McCormick Blair more than 80 years ago and is proudly continued today.

Jim O’Connor, a managing director and head of venture capital at William Blair and a board member of Urban Initiatives, accepted the award for William Blair. 

“Being a partner in our local communities is very important to us and we are proud to support Urban Initiatives,” O’Connor told the gathering.

He also thanked the 100 William Blair volunteers who have worked with students over the past year as volunteers, coaches, and mentors.

In announcing the award in April, Urban Initiatives said: “Your endless support as an advocate for this organization has been an invaluable resource to this team and has allowed Urban Initiatives to continue to grow our continuum of programming that positively impacts children and families across Chicago every day.”