Southern New Hampshire University

Case Study Southern New Hampshire University

Client Background

Southern New Hampshire University became the Official Education Partner of Major League Soccer in 2015. Through this relationship, SNHU helps MLS players and staff pursue a degree online, all while managing grueling travel and training schedules. The partnership also emphasizes community-based initiatives aimed at supporting youth programs, local charities and the military in major cities.

Our Role

To say this innovative partnership holds special meaning is an understatement. The number of individuals who now benefit from flexible online education is considerable, and it’s made even more notable when it’s delivered by a University that holds the 1989 Men’s Soccer Division II National Championship (we may just know a key Midfielder on this team).

GESM was instrumental in creating, developing and negotiating the SNHU and MLS relationship. Once signed, our team has supported SNHU’s effort to build 26 safe places to learn and play in MLS communities, fostered donations exceeding $300,000 to the United Service Organizations (USO), celebrated more than 20 SNHU scholarships, marked more than 180 MLS players, retired players and staff enrolled in SNHU degree programs and aided in $100,000 of fundraising for U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success Program.

ACTIVATION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Annually, over the July 4th holiday, we celebrate #SNHU Goals. This five-day Twitter program motivates fans to watch and amplify goal highlights shared from @MLS with funds being donated to USO for every RT generated.

  • In soccer, there is no greater sign of respect than the post-match jersey swap. We twisted this ritual in 2017 and had MLS stars like Ashley Cole, Sacha Kljestan and Javier Morales swap jerseys with stars from the US Armed Forces to help raise awareness for shared initiatives between SNHU and USO.


  • We kicked off our KickStart fundraising program in 2016 as part of MLS All-Star Week in San Jose, then made match day stops in NY, Dallas and LA. Fans visited our onsite juggling booth; for every juggle made, we contributed $1 to Soccer for Success leading to a total donation of $100,000.

  • For us, the ultimate activation highlight is encapsulated in the mere existence of the partnership. The motivations behind the partnership with MLS and the activation tactics that bring it to life are all 100% grounded in providing new opportunities for people to improve their lives.  From scholarship programs, to building mini pitches and technology labs, to recognition and support for our armed forces, we are privileged to be part of something that truly makes a difference.