Social Entrepreneurship

Grassroot Soccer

Ethan’s predisposition toward advocacy, social enterprise, global health, and self-empowerment truly took shape in 2002, when he, with a portion of his winnings from Survivor: Africa, co-founded Grassroot Soccer, a first-of-its-kind NGO using the sport to teach young people self-reliance and critical life skills, such as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, for the betterment of at-risk communities.

It was the realization of an idea that first came to light while playing soccer professionally in Zimbabwe, where he first came face- to-face with the toll and scale of the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa. Since inception, the international organization has scaled up to 60 countries in Africa and worldwide, graduated 2.9 millions youth, and worked with scores of public- and private-sector partners. Ever the tireless and creative promoter, Ethan in 2008 did nothing short of dribble a soccer ball 600 miles on his own — Boston to Washington, DC — as a campaign to drum up visibility, awareness, and support.

Ethan’s work with Grassroot Soccer and in the field of public health earned him a place on US Soccer Foundation’s Most lmpactful People list for 2017. In 2015 BeyondSport named Ethan to their 50 Most Influential People—a list which, that year, also included Michelle Obama, Desmond Tutu, David Beckham, Muhammad Ali, and Billie Jean King.

Grassroot Videos

Jewish Values

As demonstrated by his charitable work, tzedakah and community involvement, Ethan believes that a better and healthier world can be achieved living by Jewish values. His inspiration to help heal the world stems from being taught at an early age the importance of community, a connection to the Jewish faith and the preservation of Israel.

Ethan shares his deep bond to Judaism, connection to the Jewish community and relationship with Israel by partnering with Jewish organizations that are doing critical work around the world such as: The Jewish National Fund, The Schusterman Foundation, Maccabi USA, JCCs, BBYO, Gift Of Life, Camp Simcha, The Jewish Federation, JEDx, Tribe Fest and The Shabbos Project.


Cancer-free since 2012, Ethan to this day is a voice for survivors and fighters of all ages, even chronicling the gritty details of his entire cancer experience for People Magazine. While undergoing treatment, he ran and finished the New York City and Boston marathons to help spread the message of hope to the world. Ethan is a champion for investment in new medical research and technology; and an advisor to numerous hospitals and foundations, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He was a Global Envoy for Nike’s LIVESTRONG, and is a National Ambassador to First Descents, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), through which he, with the creators of Survivor, launched SURVIVOR SU2C.

Cannabis Advocacy

The severities of both his illness and its treatment led Ethan to experiment with, and ultimately adopt, cannabis as a palliative—despite his doctors denying him prescriptions to medical marijuana. The relative scarcity of safe, controlled options for cancer patients and other sufferers of acute illnesses, compounded by the overwhelming misinformation—in a fast- growing legalized marketplace—about consumption, have spurred Ethan to go public with his story and advocate for common-sense use, regulation, and education of young people. His moderating POV, born out of personal experience and a concern for the public good, puts him at the rational center of an escalating dialogue in the US and internationally.

Safe Roots Foundation

What’s more, the mission to counter misleading narrative while targeting a critical, undeserved need led Ethan, with public-health expert and Grassroot Soccer cofounder Kirk Friedrich, to launch the Safe Roots Foundation in 2018. Part advocacy, part corporate social responsibility advisory, the innovative nonprofit works with partners in the cannabis industry to identify and invest in qualified teen drug-misuse prevention and awareness programs.


Legends of Maccabiah - Maccabi USA
The Relentless Award - The New York Mets, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Emmy Nomination, Daytime - Everyday Health, Host, ABC
Most lmpactful People in Soccer - U.S. Soccer Foundation
Most Influential People in Sports - BeyondSport
Top 15 Players of the Decade (‘00-09) - United Soccer Leagues (USL)
Comcast Xfinity Survivor Hall Of Fame Inductee
Helene Hines Courage in Soccer Award - Jewish Sports Heritage Association
Gilda Red Door For Advocacy Award - Gilda’s Club
Daily Point of Light Award - Daily Points of Light (Pres. George H. W. Bush)
Top 200 Philanthropists - Richtopia
Courage Award - Mia Hamm Foundation
Social Entrepreneurs Honorary Doctorate Of Humane Sciences Degree - Dominican College
Courage of Conscious Award - The Peace Abbey
Helpers of the Year - People Magazine
Innovator of The Year - Vassar College (alma mater)
Heroes Among Us Award - Boston Celtics & Massachusetts State Dep’t
Nkosi Johnson Community Spirit Award - IAPAC
Auxilia Chimusoro Award - U.S. State Department (Zimbabwe)
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