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About Sports 4 Life: How to Apply

2015 Logo Manta Lockup

The 2017 Sports 4 Life Grant Application is now closed.

Program Background

In October 2014, the Women’s Sports Foundation, with support from espnW, launched “Sports 4 Life” a new, national grant program to increase participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in sports. The benefits of sports participation on young women are tremendous: increased confidence and higher self-esteem, a more positive body image, better overall physical health and lower rates of obesity, better grades in school, a higher graduation rate and a greater likelihood to attend college. Quality sports programs can also provide a leadership training experience for girls.

Sports 4 Life, like all Women’s Sports Foundation initiatives, is supported by evidence-based research. 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.

The Women’s Sports Foundation wants to empower communities, and organizations like yours, to reverse this alarming trend and teach girls the foundational benefits of sports: leadership, self-esteem, confidence, and perseverance.

Grant Guidelines

What is the purpose of the grant?
To create and expand developmental youth sports programs that serve African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11 to 18 years old — high-risk and underserved populations.

Who administers the grant?
The Women’s Sports Foundation administers the grant program and espnW is the sponsor of this program.

Who is eligible to apply for the grant?

  • The Women’s Sports Foundation grant is open to non-profit schools, parks and recreation departments, non-profit organizations that possess 501(c)(3) status at the time the application is submitted, or an amateur sports league with a 501(c)(3) status located in the fifty (50) United States, District of Columbia or U.S. Territories.

Applicants must demonstrate that the program meets the following criteria:

  • Serve predominately African-American or Hispanic girls (representing more than 70% of the enrolled program participants)
  • The ability to deliver structured, developmental sports programming to girls ages 11 to 18 through experienced and committed leadership
  • The ability to provide ongoing funding to implement sports programming after the life of the grant has expired
  • Comply with all of the applicable Federal Civil Rights laws, including the requirements pertaining to developing and submitting an Equal Employment Opportunity Plan (EEOP), reporting Findings of Discrimination, and providing language services to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) persons.

How much funding is available?
Together, the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW will award a minimum of $200,000 to help organizations across the United States create or expand developmental youth sports programs serving African-American and Hispanic girls ages 11 to 18. Grants ranging from $2,500 up to $10,000 are available based on organization size and potential program reach.

What can the grant be used for?
Grants can be used for coaching, curriculum, equipment, uniforms, transportation, facility rental, tournaments and/or team-building activities, all while fostering the Sports 4 Life benefits: leadership, self-esteem, confidence, and perseverance.

What if my program has already been funded?
The Women’s Sports Foundation welcomes applications for programs that have received Sports 4 Life grants in the past, especially in cases where the repeated grant builds on the original idea. Those who still meet our rules of eligibility and have a program that meets our criteria may apply.

If you are a returning grantee, be sure that your application documents the outcome of the original grant and specific benefits that have resulted from it. Any subsequent funding is contingent upon receipt of a satisfactory final and/or mid-term report.

All of the following guidelines are applicable to the grant recipient (“program”):

  • Participation in a Women’s Sports Foundation program evaluation webinar by a designated program administrator.
  • Completion of pre- and post-participation attitudinal surveys by the girl participants enrolled in the program.*
  • Completion of post-program surveys by the designated program administrator.
  • If requested, provide your organization’s most recent audited financials or IRS Form 990.
  • Completion of a final report detailing the impact of the program and how the funding was used. Grant recipients that request renewed funding will be asked to provide a mid-term report.
  • If requested, participation in a site visit by the Women’s Sports Foundation during the course of the program.
  • Appropriate acknowledgement of Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW support in one or more of the following: program events, publications, videos, display onsite at facility or website. Usage guidelines will be provided to grant recipients.
  • Regularly provide photos, videos, press clippings and other relevant publicity information about the projects, services, operations, activities or programs in which grant funds were used on an ongoing basis and as attachments to the required reports.
  • Access to the program’s girl participants for evaluation and public education purposes.*
  • Acknowledge that public announcements of the grant award may be made by the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW.

*The grant recipient program is responsible for securing appropriate parental consent, as needed.

Relevant dates?
The program application period begins begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) on September 15, 2016 and ends on November 18, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

All winning and non-winning applicants will be notified of their status by February 28, 2017.

Technical Support: 2016 Webinar Schedule
Technical support webinars will be held in October and November to answer questions about the application process and grant guidelines. Please RSVP below as space is limited.

October 14, 2016 1:00pm EST
New Applicant Webinar RSVP:

November 1, 2016 4:00pm EST
New Applicant Webinar RSVP:

November 1, 2016 3:00pm EST
Sports 4 Life Grant Recipient Webinar (application for renewed funding) RSVP:

November 11, 2016 2:00pm EST
Sports 4 Life Applicant Training Webinar RSVP:

Technical Support: Office Hours
The week of November 14-17, 2016, we will be hosting office hours from 1pm-4pm EST to answer any last minute questions you have. To schedule an appointment, please go to:

How to Apply
What do you need to get started?
You will need your organization’s primary address, Employer Identification Number (EIN), IRS tax-exempt determination letter and IRS Form W-9 in order to apply.

Application Procedure
During the program application period, an authorized representative must visit and follow the directions to register a new user profile or update an existing profile. Limit one (1) profile per person/email address. Once your profile is registered, you will be able to save and submit an application on the website.

You must be 18 years of age or older to submit an application and be an authorized representative of the organization. But if you are under 18, we encourage you to ask your coach, teacher or other adult staff member associated with your program to consider eligibility requirements and apply.

Notification and Application Acceptance

Conditions under which an application will not be accepted:
1. Applications that are e-mailed, faxed, incomplete or late;
2. Applications for programs that require compulsory religious participation;
3. Applications requesting funding towards the purchase of land, construction of buildings, event sponsorships, providing scholarships to individuals and/or the purchase/care of animals with this grant;
4. Applications requesting retroactive funding.

Still have Questions?
After reading the above guidelines carefully, if you have any questions, please contact Cicley Gay at