Real Salt Lake has partnered with the RISE To Win organization to put on a series of educational diversity workshops for RSL Academy players over the next two months. The RISE program is used to foster conversations among players and staff about diversity, inclusion and acceptance.

RISE's curriculum covers topics such as identity, bias, diversity concepts and athlete activism and teaches skills such as perspective taking, empathy, critical thinking and leadership. 

The program meets weekly in person or via zoom. A concept is introduced to the group and then the players break out into smaller discussion groups before coming back together to share their findings with the larger group. 

“At the Academy level we have three principles, academics, citizenship and then football,” said Zeyaad Moussa, Real Salt Lake’s Safe Sport Administrator.

“Everyone has their own experiences. The Academy boys are all coming from different locations and backgrounds, and they're coming to a place where they live together for 10 and a half months.

They’re going to be exposed to other people's lives and be around each other quite a bit. Getting this opportunity to better understand their place in this world in relation to others and how to really engage and challenge themselves of whatever their preconceived notions that they may have is great.”

Throughout February and March, the RSL Academy players will continue to meet and talk about these important topics and how they fit into the RSL Way. The U-15 and U-17 Academy teams began their RISE training in late January, and have already begun the first steps of the program. 

“I think it helps us understand and learn about aspects of our life that we haven't necessarily thought about before,” said RSL U17 Academy player, Izzy Amparo.

“Those little aspects help us understand our different backgrounds more.”

After learning more about the program and the different concepts shared, the Academy kids broke out into groups to learn more about each other’s unique backgrounds and experiences.

“You can see them working through things,” said Moussa.

“In our last session we had U-15s and just getting to see them work through what is equity versus equality versus ethnicity and putting it into their own words how they have experienced it or their just basic understanding, it just kind of blew me away.”

Real Salt Lake will be following along with the Academy’s journey through the RISE program with content throughout Black History Month and March.