We Have a New Partner!


 For Immediate Release:                                                         

Powerful Partnership Made to Support Youth in Haiti 

Ex-DC United Star and World Cup Veteran Tony Sanneh Joins with Gail Megaloudis Rongen to Support Gender Equity and the Positive Development of Haitian Girls and Boys in Cite Soleil 

Saint Paul, MN – July 31, 2015 - The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) and The Nicole Megaloudis Foundation (NMF) have formally agreed to the formation of a strategic partnership in support of the Haitian Initiative (HI), a youth development program based in Haiti’s Cite Soleil, a Port-au-Prince neighborhood commonly considered to be the poorest and most dangerous place to live in the entire Western Hemisphere. 

The Haitian Initiative was founded by two-time MLS champion and 2002 FIFA World Cup veteran Tony Sanneh after he undertook a humanitarian mission to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated that nation in 2010. Starting as a one team summer exchange program, the Haitian Initiative now operates year-round to offer 240 boys and girls in Cite Soleil the chance to play organized soccer and receive a free and nutritious meal six days-a-week, provided they meet school attendance requirements. The program continues to include a selection-based annual summer youth exchange component, and now regularly partners with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince to run soccer for social impact youth clinics that train Haitian National Police units in authentic youth engagement. 


This strategic partnership was formalized following one year of discussions and a site visit by Gail Megaloudis Rongen, NMF’s Founder and Executive Director, and husband Thomas Rongen, current Head Coach of the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, to Haiti in August of 2014. Megaloudis Rongen recently followed up with a one week visit to Minnesota to support a twelve player team of fourteen and fifteen year-old girls from Cite Soleil taking part in the Haitian Initiative’s summer exchange program. The exchange program had previously brought boys teams to Minnesota each summer for the last three years, but with NMF’s financial support, brought its first ever team of girls to take part in a schedule of games and cultural activities with Minnesota youth and families. “NMF has journeyed between Haiti and the U.S. for the last ten years looking for the right situation and the right partner,” said Megaloudis Rongen, “in TSF and the Haitian Initiative we’ve finally found the perfect fit. Our mantra at NMF is ‘Make It Happen!’ because my daughter Nicole always said ‘Anything is possible. You just have to find a way to Make it Happen!’ Together with Tony, The Sanneh Foundation, and the Haitian Initiative we will work tirelessly to make it happen for the children of Haiti.” 


NMF will specifically accomplish this goal by continuing to support the Haitian Initiative’s female participants as the major financial sponsor of the girls program, and joins the program’s Haitian corporate social responsibility partner E-Power and TSF as the main three fiscal supporters of HI. Along with this, TSF and NMF agree to take dual ownership over the program and work together to seek out new partners to further the collaborative effort to empower, improve, and unite the children of Cite Soleil and Haiti. As such, NMF representation will join the HI executive team in creating, planning, and implementing all strategy with regards to the development and future direction of the Haitian Initiative. 


Haitian Initiative Founder and TSF Executive Director, Tony Sanneh, said of the partnership, “We have always believed we can get more done collaboratively, and Gail has helped us to become more intentional in allocating resources in support of the girls in the program. With her vision and determined leadership we believe the Haitian Initiative can become a model for equity and integration. Together with Gail and the Nicole Megaloudis Foundation we know we can ‘Make It Happen’ for more girls and more boys in Cite Soleil and create greater pathways to success for all the youth of Haiti.” 


For more information, please contact: 

Tod Herskovitz, The Sanneh Foundation, Grants Manager and International Partner Relations 

Phone – 612.214.6319 

Email – [email protected] 


About The Nicole Megaloudis Foundation - 

On February 9th, 2004, Nicole Megaloudis was killed in an auto accident driving to Virginia Commonwealth University where she had recently completed her freshmen year. She was a crucial member of the VCU women’s soccer team and started every game in her first season with the team. But more important than her talents on the field, was how much she cared for all of those around her and her determination to serving children less fortunate than herself. Gail Rongen, Nicole’s mother, vowed to fulfill her daughter’s dreams and began The Nicole Megaloudis Foundation (NMF) to honor her life and memory. With the loving support of family and friends, the Nicole Megaloudis Foundation was established to assist young people hoping to attend and graduate from college. Towards this end, scholarships were created and are awarded based upon leadership qualities, commitment to service, and demonstration of financial need. Nicole also had a clear vision of helping the children of Haiti and NMF continues to explore and build partnerships to realize her vision of helping youth in Haiti. 


About The Sanneh Foundation 

The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) is a Saint Paul, Minnesota based 501(c)3 created to serve the holistic youth development needs of young people from communities of color and low-income families. Since TSF’s inception in 2003 it has designed and implemented six culturally relevant positive youth development programs aimed at promoting academic achievement and social emotional development for under-resourced and under-served youth both domestically and internationally. The goal of TSF’s programs are to empower youth by providing leadership-skill development and social emotional mentoring, improve lives by supporting and promoting educational attainment through in-school and after-school programming, and unite communities by advancing diversity, gender equity, and community inclusivity.