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The Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW Announce a National Grant to Provide Greater Access to Youth Sports for African-American and Hispanic Girls

New York, NY (October 9, 2014) – The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports, in collaboration with espnW, today announced the “Sports 4 Life” grant initiative, a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11-18, in developmental youth sports programs. Through education, public awareness and grants to organizations nationwide, Sports 4 Life seeks to effect sustainable improvement to the overall health and development of girls in these communities.

Sports 4 Life is an investment in the future of girls, enabling organizations around the country to make sports accessible while imparting four foundational benefits of sports: leadership, self-esteem, confidence, and perseverance. Girls who play sports have a more positive body image, better overall physical health and lower obesity, better grades in school, a higher graduation rate and a greater likelihood to attend college.

The grants will empower organizations to provide coaching, curriculum, equipment, uniforms, transportation, facility rental, tournaments and/or team-building activities, all while fostering the Sports 4 Life benefits. Organizations can apply for grant funding starting today on www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.

Sports 4 Life, like all Women’s Sports Foundation initiatives, is supported by evidence-based research and national data. The WSF report “Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America” illustrates that African-American and Hispanic girls are doubly hit by both gender and race disparities in sports. Girls in these demographics are less likely to play sports than boys and less likely to play sports than their Caucasian peers. They also enter sports at a later age and drop out earlier. Furthermore, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is significantly higher for African-American and Hispanic girls compared to their peers.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation wants to help communities address the growing decline in sports opportunities and health outcomes for African-American and Hispanic girls by introducing quality sports programming. Our aim, alongside espnW, is to inspire girls to embrace sports and physical activity as building blocks for life,” expressed WSF CEO Deborah Slaner Larkin. “Lack of access, escalating costs, safety and transportation issues can no longer be excuses for not participating. We, as a community, owe it to all of our girls to provide access to sports and the leadership training experience that results from girls’ participation.”

“There must be increased awareness of the positive impact playing sports has on the health and wellness of girls nationwide,” said Laura Gentile, Vice President of espnW. “Sports 4 Life is an opportunity to reach African-American and Hispanic girls – a high risk and underserved population – and help them get moving towards greater health and confidence.”

“ESPN is thrilled to collaborate with the Women’s Sports Foundation on this important initiative to increase participation in sports by African-American and Hispanic girls, which is directly in line with espnW’s vision of empowering girls through sports,” stated ESPN President John Skipper.

Building up to the launch, three model programs were selected to demonstrate how funding can be used to recruit and grow participation of African-American and Hispanic girls in sports: PowerPlay NYC in New York, NY ($10,000), Girls in the Game in Chicago, IL ($5,000) and Sporty Girls, Inc., Atlanta, GA ($5,000).

The Foundation is currently accepting applications at www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life. The 2014-15 application deadline is December 17, 2014 and grants will be awarded in the spring of 2015.

About The Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation — the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports — is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, our work shapes public attitude about women’s sports and athletes, builds capacities for organizations that get girls active, ensures equal opportunities for girls and women, and supports physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles. For more information, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org. Follow the Foundation at www.Facebook.com/WomensSportsFoundation or on Twitter (@WomensSportsFdn).

About espnW
espnW serves women who love sports. espnW.com provides an engaging environment that offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and shares a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women. Founded in July, 2010, espnW lives across television, films, events, digital and social platforms. The annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit is the leading event of its kind in the sports industry. The Women’s Sports Foundation is a charity of choice for espnW.

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Media contact:
Kevin Pchola | WSF
212-299-8950
Kevin.Pchola@zenogroup.com