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2018 Sports 4 Life Grant Recipients Awarded by Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW

NEW YORK, NY – The Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW announced today the 2018 recipients of the Sports 4 Life initiative, a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in youth sports programs. For 2018, more than $450,000 has been awarded to 64 organizations, representing 37 traditional and non-traditional sports in 18 states across the nation, expected to serve nearly 14,000 middle and high school girls.

Sports 4 Life, cofounded by the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW in 2014, was created based on the knowledge that while sports participation offers tremendous life-long benefits – from improved physical health and self-esteem, to better grades in school and enhanced leadership skills – young girls of color are disproportionately excluded. Recognizing the value of Sports 4 Life, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation joined the initiative this year to provide regional support to eight organizations in Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

Sports 4 Life seeks to shrink that gap by strengthening and expanding the opportunities for sports participation that are available to young girls of color through its grantmaking, leadership training and capacity-building efforts. The initiative supports programs that help girls in four foundational areas – leadership, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance – with the expectation that growth in these areas will also support girls’ physical and emotional health and academic success.

“Our vision is that one day, all girls will have the opportunity to reach their full potential through the transformative experience of sports,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). “Even more than we believe in the power of sports, the Women’s Sports Foundation believes that all girls – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, zip code or family income – deserve equitable access to the lifelong benefits of sports. We’re proud to team up with espnW and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to make that vision a reality.”

Since the initiative’s inception in 2014, Sports 4 Life has awarded 200 grants totaling more than $1.1 million, and reaching more than 50,000 girls nationally. Half of the girls reached by Sports 4 Life programming were not previously participating in sports with regularity, and nearly all girls were interested in continuing sports after participating in Sports 4 Life programming. Further, with WSF’s support, the 2018 community partners have been particularly successful in increasing opportunities for girls of color: more than 85% percent of girl participants identify as African-American or Hispanic.

“In a few short years of commitment and focused attention, we have seen the tangible positive results that Sports 4 Life has brought to the lives of girls of color across the country,” said Laura Gentile, ESPN senior vice president, espnW and ESPN Business Operations & Content Strategy. “This program demonstrates the universal value and appeal of sports, and it is an integral piece of the espnW mission. We look forward to continuing to empower girls to realize their full potential through sports.”

“We see this as a great opportunity to help create long-term impact in our communities when you pair the great work already underway within these youth sport organizations in our regions and connect them with the national resources, expertise and high-touch support of the Sports 4 Life program,” said Jim Boyle, vice president, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Meet our 2018 grant recipients and learn more about them here.

The Foundation will begin accepting applications for 2019 this fall. For information and timelines for the 2019 grant cycle, please continue to visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.

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About Women’s Sports Foundation

The Women’s Sports Foundation is a powerful voice, catalyst and convener dedicated to ensuring all girls have equal access to sports and physical activity and the tremendous life-long benefits they provide. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we seek to strengthen and expand opportunities for all girls and women to participate in all sports at all levels through research, advocacy, community impact and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. The Women’s Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and has positively shaped the lives of more than 3 million youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes. To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org or follow us at @WomensSportsFdn and www.facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation.

About espnW
espnW is a global multiplatform brand dedicated to engaging and inspiring women through sports. espnW.com, the brand’s content home, offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and captures the biggest trends in sports life/style.  espnW also provides a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women and highlights the crossroads of sports and culture. Founded in July 2010, espnW’s content and voices live across digital, television, radio, films, events, educational platforms and social media. The annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit, now in its ninth year, brings together top athletes and industry leaders for meaningful conversations around women and sports, and is the leading event of its kind in the sports industry.

About Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit rcwjrf.org.


Press Contacts:


Women’s Sports Foundation
Shadya Tuason/Spitfire Strategies
Shadya@SpitfireStrategies.com
(202) 448-0224

espnW
Tara Chozet
tara.c.chozet@espn.com
(860) 766-2206

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
Carly Strachan
carly.strachan@rcwjrf.org
(313) 460-8100