The Haitian Initiative (HI) is a collaboration of partners working together to bring sustainable programs to Haiti using soccer as a catalyst to combat the cycle of poverty. The program is designed to motivate kids to stay in school. Regular school attendance and passing grades are a requirement to participate in the program. Practice and games occur six days a week.

As a result of this program’s sustained success, The Sanneh Foundation is one of only nine organizations worldwide chosen by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to lead and implement an International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) reciprocal exchange program on behalf of the Department of State’s SportsUnited program.

Cite Soleil

Cite Soleil has an estimated 200,000 people – with 29,000 people per square mile and close to 400,000 people overall. Most of the residents of Cite Soleil are unemployed. Some people are able to sell small amounts of produce and other products at street markets.  A majority of Cite Soleil residents are children.  In fact, 65% of Haiti’s population is under the age of 25.

The children we work with are sometimes homeless and parentless. They face extreme hunger, gang violence, and high risk of AIDS/HIV. Some children lack access to school, education, and safe places to play sports. Youth in Cite Soleil rarely have the opportunity to just be children.

Learn More About Sponsorship



HI enrolls 320 children each year, and each child needs a sponsor. A modest monthly donation of $50 is all it takes to pay for one child’s annual tuition, 6 days of soccer training each week, and a nutritious meal every day a child trains. Haitian families must pay for their children’s primary and secondary education. As a family struggles to provide basic needs for its children, education sadly becomes a discretionary expense. The Haitian Initiative Child Sponsorship Program enables you to remove those barriers to education.

Sponsorship is your opportunity to connect with a child in need and fuel his or her journey to a better way of life. HI will arrange for direct communications between you and the child you sponsor throughout the year.

After every practice – 6 days per week – Haitian Initiative youth receive a hot vitamin fortified meal provided by another Minnesota based organization, Feed My Starving Children. For the vast majority of HI participants, this meal represents their only meal for the day.

Haitian Initiative uses soccer as a catalyst to motivate the youth of Cite Soleil to stay in school. They must show proof of attendance in an accredited school to participate in the program.

Coaches work on the fundamental technical skills the game of soccer requires, but also concentrate on developing the leadership and social skills necessary for teamwork on the field, and community engagement beyond the field.

Soccer is used to promote mutual understanding, social cohesion, and healthy gender identity for youth and community coaches in Haiti

Haitian Initiative youth receive 2 hours of English classes every week. Two instructors provide daily English class to all 320 children enrolled in the HI program in Cité Soleil.