Communities at the Forefront

Elevating Girls' Sports Through Local Programs

Published on October 19th, 2020

In October 2014, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), and espnW co-founded “Sports 4 Life”, a national grant program to increase participation and retention of African American and Hispanic girls in sports, especially in under-resourced communities. These grants are intended to help small and mid-size organizations in all 50 states create or expand sustainable developmental sports programming for girls in middle and high school, as well as provide high-quality sports programming to foster strong recruitment and retention of African American and Hispanic girls. The program also seeks to create leadership opportunities and increase public awareness to address disparities in girls’ access to sports.

This report presents findings from data collected over the last five years from the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sports 4 Life grantees. The Sports 4 Life evaluation team developed several research tools customized to measure strength in the key objectives identified by the national and regional initiatives, and to examine these objectives from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders—the girls who participate, their program leaders, and community stakeholders. These tools, combined with qualitative data drawn from interviews, think tanks that brought together regional partners and the WSF to identify key regional priorities, and open-ended survey questions, provide a robust account of Sports 4 Life’s contributions to the field of positive sports youth development.