CHICAGO – The National Women’s Soccer League, together with Verizon, Frirday announced the creation of the Verizon Community Shield, a competition set to take place during the 2020 NWSL Fall Series.

Each of the NWSL’s nine clubs will partner with small businesses or programs in their community, and the team with the most points at the end of the Fall Series will be awarded the Verizon Community Shield and the opportunity to present a grant of $25,000 to their community partner, made possible by Verizon. $15,000 and $10,000 will be presented to the second and third-place teams, respectively.

In 2020, the NWSL received a Small Business Administration loan, which helped continue to pay and support its players as the season was put on hold. The loan bought the league the time it needed to create the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

“The Verizon Community Shield is an opportunity for our league to showcase small businesses and organizations in the communities that our clubs live, play and work,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “As we fight this pandemic and confront the sad reality of systemic racism in our country, we want to use the Fall Series to play for a purpose. The Verizon Community Shield provides our players and clubs that opportunity and I want to thank Verizon for stepping up and helping us make this happen.”

Teams will identify a small business or organization in their markets to feature and play for throughout the 2020 NWSL Fall Series. With the help of short vignettes, each club will introduce and tell the story of a business it values and support. These vignettes and stories will be highlighted by the league and teams on social media throughout the competition.

The winner of the Fall Series will receive the Verizon Community Shield and a grant to present to its chosen program.