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.
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.
AWARDS AND HONORS
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
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)