Frequently Asked Questions
The Women’s Sports Foundation is an educational nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity organization founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King.
What is the Foundation’s mission?
The Women’s Sports Foundation is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.
What are the results of the Foundation’s work?
- One of the top five public grant-giving women’s funds in the United States, the Foundation distributes upwards of $10,000 per week from operating dollars to provide opportunities for socioeconomically underprivileged and inactive girls to participate in sports and physical activity.
- The Foundation’s advocacy efforts have directly affected the amount of scholarship dollars supporting educational opportunities for female student-athletes in the United States. In 1972, women received only $100,000 but now receive $1.8 billion a year across NCAA Division I & II (NCAA, 2014).
- We advocate for equal playing fields for professional and Olympic athletes by helping to get sports in the Olympics, like ski jumping and supporting the international women’s World Cup Soccer teams who fought FIFA’s mandate that the women must play on artificial turf fields when the men play on grass fields.
- Over the past 41 years, the Foundation has awarded more than $50 million in programming to advance participation, research and leadership in sports and physical activity for girls and women. Our major grant programs range from getting over 1 million girls active in physical activity (GoGirlGo); to providing grass-roots sports opportunities to over 6,000 girls of color aged 11-18 (Sports 4 Life); and over 1,300 grants to aspiring champion athletes and teams to help defray the expensive travel, training and equipment expenses required for them to reach their championship potential (Travel & Training).
- Over the past 30 years, the Foundation has produced more than 40 national, evidence-based research studies that provide a data driven approach to gender equity. Research informs our advocacy and forms the basis of how we develop our programs.
- We continue to advocate for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by working with the NCAA leadership, the Office of Civil Rights, coaching organizations, parents and the media to provide education and guidance to achieve compliance of the law. Title IX protects people from the discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
- The Foundation’s support of national laws prohibiting sex discrimination has resulted in an increase in high school girls’ varsity sports participation from 1 in 27 in 1972 to 2 in 5 girls in 2006.
- Recognizing that more work needs to be done to ensure safe access to sports, the Foundation worked with the USOC to develop a comprehensive plan for their new independent agency, which will oversee sexual abuse investigations in club and Olympic sport.
- In the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (Sochi): Twelve recipients of the Travel & Training Fund competed in Sochi, with two women earning medals for Team USA – one silver and one bronze.
- In the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (London): Thirty-one Travel & Training Fund recipients traveled to London, with one team and four individual recipients earning seven medals – five gold, one silver and one bronze.
Why does the Foundation exist?
The Foundation is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls’ access to sports. We provide safe and equitable sports opportunities so that all girls receive the significant health, education and leadership benefits both on and off the field.
- Only 25% of girls are getting sufficient physical activity to combat the development of chronic disease and enhance quality of life. Barriers to participation and other socioeconomic factors compound this deficit in females of color as well as for girls and women living in urban and rural settings. (Staurowsky et al., 2015)
- Disordered eating, depression and poor self-esteem are commonly associated with a negative body image, which can develop in girls as young as 6 and be well-established by the age of 9. Physical activity is shown to have a positive effect on body image over time. (Staurowsky et al., 2015)
- Sport is where our children learn about teamwork, goal setting and the pursuit of excellence. In an economic environment where the quality of our life is dependent on two-income families, our daughters cannot be less prepared for the highly competitive workplace than our sons.
- The Foundation works to afford females equal opportunity to work and be volunteer leaders in sports organizations and the sports industry.
Who are the Foundation’s leadership?
- An innovative CEO, an experienced team, a champion athlete President and a diverse Board of Trustees who are leaders in sport, corporate and educational institutions, industries, organizations and philanthropy.
- An Athlete Advisory Panel, a Corporate Advisory Panel, an Advocacy Committee, a Research Panel and a Founder’s Circle comprised of experts in all aspects of sports, gender equity, education, health and leadership.
- The Board of Trustees and Founder’s Circle includes leading women and men in Corporate America, Olympic, Paralympic and world champion athletes, sports industry executives, and experts in fields of law, research and academia.
- Staff and Board leadership reflect the Foundation’s commitment to diversity and integrity.
Why does the Foundation need to exist today with the multitude of opportunities for girls and women in sports?
Participation: There has been great progress in opportunities for girls and women in sports participation. In 1972, 1/27 girls played high school sports. Today, over 40 years later, that number has grown to 2/5 or 40 percent. But, 60 percent of girls DO NOT have access and those are primarily girls of color who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Too many girls, especially those who are economically disadvantaged, are inactive and, as a result, at greater risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and other serious diseases.
- More than 3/4 of 12th-grade girls are unhappy with their bodies, and one in three adolescent girls will experience depression, anxiety or eating disorders. Physical activity has been shown to improve self-image.
- Girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to participate in high school sports than boys. (NFHS, 2014)
- Women have more than 60,000 fewer college sports opportunities than men and receive $201 million less in athletic scholarships. (NCAA, 2014)
- Not only have girls NOT reached equity in high school sports, their share of opportunities has actually declined in the first decade of the 21st century. (Sabo & Veliz, 2012)
- Women athletes are actually covered less in media now than they were in 1989 (5% of TV coverage). In 2014, only 3.2% of network television coverage was given to women’s sports; SportsCenter only gave women 2% of coverage. (Cooky, Messner, & Musto, 2015)
- Women represent 43 percent of coaches of collegiate women’s sports, only 4.2-3.5 percent of coaches of men’s sports and 22 percent of athletic directors. (Acosta & Carpenter, 2014)
- Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! has helped nearly one million inactive girls get active.
- Female athletes are smart and hold high aspirations both on and off the field. Some already enjoy economic success while others require additional guidance to reach their professional potential. The Foundation is committed to helping athletes make the transition from athlete leadership to their next business or professional career.
For these reasons and many others, there is still much work to be done to get girls active and for those who are active, to experience equal treatment at all levels of sports. The stakes are too high, the benefits of sports too important for girls and women to sit on the sidelines.
Is the Foundation a trade association?
No. However, the Foundation is considered to be “the voice” of women’s sports—an umbrella organization serving and “speaking for” girls and women in all sports, and of all ages, skill levels and abilities. The Foundation is a clearinghouse for all research and information on girls’ and women’s sports and physical activity and is quoted regularly in major media platforms including The New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post and USA Today; generating 1.5 billion media impressions annually on issues of sports, health and equality.
What are the sources of financial support for the Foundation?
The Women’s Sports Foundation receives funding from a variety of sources including: National Sponsors, organizational sponsors and program sponsors, Individual and Family Foundation and Government grants, individuals, the Annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala, as well as planned giving and bequests.
What are some honors the Foundation has received?
- GoGirlGo! — Gold and Bronze awards in the 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 National Health Information Awards recognizing the nation’s best health information programs
- Effie Awards for effective marketing communication (North America, 2013) awarded for the Keep Her In The Game campaign; Goodworks – Nonprofit (Silver) and Small Budgets – Services (Bronze)
- Billie Jean King – In August 2009, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The award was presented to King by President Obama on Aug. 12, 2009 in ceremonies at The White House.
- WSF Board of Trustees continue to be included among Forbes The Most Powerful Women in Sports and Most Powerful Men in College Sports.
- The International Olympic Committee’s highest award, the Women and Sport Trophy, in 2000 — the first time the award was given
- United Nations Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council, the first non-governmental sport organization in the world to receive such designation
- Public Relations Society of America Big Apple Award for Cause-Related Marketing
What are funds used for?
For the past decade the Women’s Sports Foundation has spent on average more than 80 cents of every dollar on programming support for girls and women in sports and physical activity and less than 20 cents on fundraising and administration costs, well below the general guidelines for nonprofit organizations requiring that total fundraising and administration costs not exceed 35% of total income.
Why give to the Foundation?
The Foundation is meeting a critical need. The request for a gift is an invitation to join in an entrepreneurial social change venture, an opportunity to invest in the health, empowerment and success of women through sports. When we expand participation and leadership opportunities for girls and women in sport, these experiences pay dividends in the form of a stronger, healthier society. We cannot do this work alone. We have a strong leadership and team of experts to ensure that we maximize our financial and other resources. We encourage you to join the Women’s Sports Foundation and help more girls get off the sidelines and into sports and good health!
For More Information:
Summary pages are available for the following areas and more: Advocacy,GoGirlGo! Program, Sports 4 Life Program, the Travel & Training Fund, Athlete Leadership Connection, Major Giving, Planned Giving, Research and other Grants.
Women’s Sports Foundation
247 West 30th Street
New York, New York 10001