We have been working for 44 years, since our inception in San Francisco in 1974, when the landscape in girls’ and women’s sports looked entirely different than it does today. In that time, we have galvanized valuable and historic advances for girls and women in sports, and with that comes a broad web of programs and policies, a deep network of athletes and influencers, and a complex catalog of key terms, language and yes, even some acronyms.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most illuminating of those key terms in the ABCs of the WSF:
A is for Advocacy: We believe that one day, every girl will have the opportunity to develop her personal potential through the benefits of physical activity and sports. An important part of reaching that goal is our advocacy work. We advocate for access and gender equity for all girls through the enforcement of Title IX and other policies shaping legislation and opportunity in high schools, colleges and universities, communities and elite competition. Our advocacy work shapes policy, public interest and practice to address inequity and discrimination in all areas of sports.
B is for Board of Trustees: The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is legally responsible for the exemplary operation of the organization. Trustees are champion female athletes, prominent businesspeople, major benefactors and leaders of sports organizations. They establish fiscal policy, assist in the acquisition of adequate financial and human resources and oversee the accomplishment of the Foundation goals and objectives.
C is for Community: As part of our commitment to education, we invest in the organizational capacity and sustainability of community organizations through direct funding, webinars, training and educational toolkits. We consider the optimization of our community impact a key winning outcome, and we work with both national and community partners to increase this impact.
D is for Data: Research is the foundation of everything we do. As such, data is an integral component and a major driver of our programming and policy decisions. From these research reports, data helps us identify gaps in access and other needs WSF programs can fill. Our evidence-based data is also used widely among sport, governmental and community-based organizations to shape policies and best practices.
E is for Education: Educating the public is a central aim of our work. In particular, our GoGirlGo! Curriculum, used in community organizations across the country to teach girls life lessons through sports, includes leaders’ guides, a guided program, a fun and engaging scrapbook and stories from champion athletes.
F is for Foundation Positions: Whenever it’s appropriate, the Foundation publishes a “Position Paper” to establish an official point-of-view on any number of topics. These Position Papers are used as evergreen guideposts when examining policy or programs, and represent our organizational opinion on topics like performance enhancing drugs, participation of transgender athletes and issues related to pregnancy and athletic participation.
G is for Grants: Throughout the country, WSF Sports 4 Life grants help fund a variety of programs designed to provide girls, particularly girls of color, with access to sports and physical activity, regardless of their background or financial ability. WSF also provides grants to aspiring champion athletes through the Travel & Training Fund, the Rusty Kanokogi Fund and the Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant. We also offer smaller, more niche funding opportunities to high school student-athletes, New York City-based girls’ organizations and others.
H is for History: The Women’s Sports Foundation was established in 1974 to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. In 1980, we held our first Annual Salute to Women in Sports; and in 1986, we relocated from San Mateo, Calif., to New York City. The Big Apple is still our home today with headquarters on 30th Street on Manhattan’s West Side.
I is for Inclusion: Our mantra “All Girls, All Sports” means just that. We advocate for the inclusion of athletes with disabilities at every level of competition, from youth sports to the Paralympic Games. We highlight champion athletes with disabilities, using their stories and images as inspiration to our next generation. We believe in and are vocal for the inclusion of LGBTQA athletes, and view sport as a safe place for any and all.
J is for Judges: In addition to a public vote for our Sportswoman of the Year award, the votes from our committee of expert judges weigh 50 percent on the outcomes. Judges, selected for their expertise and leadership in women’s sports, represent retired elite athletes, leaders in sports business and media personalities. We also use expert judges in our grantee selection process. These judges have significant and important impact on the communities and programs we support.
K is for King: Recognizing the need to advance the lives of women and girls through greater access to sports and physical activity, and to protect the sports provisions of Title IX, for which she had advocated so fiercely, Billie Jean King started the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974. The iconic tennis player is known for her social justice work as much as she is known for her 39 Grand Slam titles.
L is for Leadership: Our Athlete Leadership Connection conference promotes training and mentorship for collegiate and professional athletes who are transitioning to careers beyond competitive sports. The full day of speakers, panels, interactive workshops and networking is attended by 90+ champion and college athletes and numerous sports industry leaders and is designed to develop leadership skills in women with bright futures in their post-sports careers.
M is for Media: The Foundation seeks to elevate the visibility of women in sports, particularly through strategic placements in international and national media. We are often looked to for our thought leadership on current events, topical issues and provocative topics in the women’s sports ecosystem. The Foundation and our leadership have been featured in thousands of broadcast, print and digital stories in our 40 years, including regular placements in The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, The LA Times and many others.
N is for National Girls & Women in Sports Day: For more than three decades, NGWSD has empowered women and girls to get moving, embrace physical activity and push past their limits. The courage, confidence and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the strong leaders of tomorrow. Since 1987, the Foundation has lobbied on Capitol Hill for NGWSD, and has encouraged and highlighted the thousands of celebrations that are staged across the country.
Stay tuned for Part II of the ABCs of WSF coming soon!