2019 Sports 4 Life Grant Recipients Awarded by Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW

Published on October 7th, 2019

New York, NY (JUNE 11, 2019) – In an effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in youth sports programs, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and espnW announced today the 2019 recipients of the Sports 4 Life initiative. A total of $250,000 has been awarded to 50 organizations in 27 states across the country, encompassing 44 traditional and non-traditional sports reaching more than 11,000 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.

Sports 4 Life seeks to shrink that disproportionate gap by strengthening and expanding the opportunities for sports participation 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.

“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 equal access to the lifelong, transformative benefit of sports,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). “We’re thrilled to see the exciting diversity of this year’s class – from adaptive skiing to karate, lacrosse to roller derby, tumbling to wheelchair tennis – all creating wonderful opportunities for girls of color to shine and thrive. We’re so proud of this initiative and our partnership with espnW.”

Since the initiative’s inception in 2014, Sports 4 Life has awarded more than 250 grants totaling more than $1.6 million and reaching approximately 60,000 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 funded programs. Further, with WSF’s support, the 2019 community partners have been particularly successful in increasing opportunities for girls of color: more than 90% of girl participants identify as African-American or Hispanic.

“We know that sports can help dramatically change the lives of young girls by building leadership skills, developing self-esteem, and experiencing the power of teamwork,” said Laura Gentile, ESPN senior vice president, marketing. “The espnW team, and ESPN at large, are so proud of the program. In the five years since this program began, it’s made a significant impact by serving more than 60,000 girls, changing their lives in a powerful way. With the Women’s Sports Foundation, we are making important strides in addressing the disparities that continue to exist for girls in sports today.”

“espnW is excited to continue our collaboration with the Women’s Sports Foundation on the Sports 4 Life program,” said Alison Overholt, who among other responsibilities serves as editor in chief, espnW. “Our espnW storytelling team gives voice to women and girls in sports, sharing their stories of achievement with the world – we love seeing how powerfully these girls’ stories are changed as a direct result of Sports 4 Life.”

Full list of 2019 recipients:

Birmingham Area Tennis Association (Ala.) Playworks New England (Mass.)
Southwest Leadership Academy (Ariz.) #SomaliGirlsRock (Mich.)
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southcentral Alaska (Alaska) Detroit PAL (Mich.)
Fort Smith Express Soccer Association (Ark.) Education First, Athletics Second Coalition (Mo.)
Baseball For All (Calif.) Brooklyn Youth Sports Club (N.Y.)
Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside (Calif.) Dancing Dreams (N.Y.)
ICEF Public Schools (Calif.) Girls on the Run NYC (N.Y.)
Natasha Watley Foundation (Calif.) Inspirational Triathlon Racing International (I-tri) (N.Y.)
Oakland Lacrosse Club (Calif.) New Heights Youth, Inc. (N.Y.)
The SCGA Foundation (Calif.) Urban Sports Group (N.Y.)
The Cycle Effect (Calif.) City of Passaic (N.J.)
USA Field Hockey (Calif.) MVP360 Leadership Development Programs, Inc. (N.J.)
Constitution State Junior Roller Derby (Conn.) Girls Incorporated Omaha (Neb.)
Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury, Inc. (Conn.) Darden Enlightenment Center (N.C.)
Norwalk Grassroots Tennis & Education (Conn.) Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation (Okla.)
Rodney Street Tennis & Tutoring Association (DE) Down the Line and Beyond (Pa.)
Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena (Washington D.C.) Lancaster Tennis Patrons, Association, Inc. (Pa.)
The Washington Inner City Lacrosse Foundation (Washington D.C.) NNCC Students Run Philly Style (Pa)
Florida Future Elite (Fla.) Philadelphia Youth Basketball (PYB) (Pa.)
PACE Center for Girls, Lee County (Fla.) Memphis Inner City Rugby (Tenn.)
USA Water Ski & Wake Sports (Fla.) BRIDGE Lacrosse (Texas)
KIDsGyM USA, Inc. (Ga.) Lady Wheelchair Mavericks Dallas VA Basketball Association (Texas)
Lost Boyz Inc. (Ill.) Texas Regional Para Sport (Texas)
Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (Idaho) TrailsforYouth.org (Va)
Directed Initiatives for Youth, Inc. dba Excite All Stars (La.)

The Foundation will begin accepting applications for 2020 this fall. For information and timelines for the 2020 grant cycle, please continue to visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.


About Women’s Sports Foundation

The Women’s Sports Foundation is a powerful voice, catalyst and convener dedicated to ensuring all girls and women 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 on Twitter, @womenssportsfoundation on Instagram and at 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.

Press Contacts:

Women’s Sports Foundation
Patty Bifulco

Amanda Brooks