The Women’s Sports Foundation was established in 1974 to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. Our mission is to enable all girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life. We provide financial fuel to aspiring champion athletes. We fund groundbreaking research. We educate. We advocate. And we help communities get girls active. Sure, there’s a long way to go but we’re not going to stop until we get there.
The Women’s Sports Foundation is founded by Billie Jean King in San Francisco. King has long been a champion of social change and equality. She created new inroads for both genders in and out of sports during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today. The Board of Trustees represent various fields including sport, business, education and entertainment, and have led the way towards carrying out the mission and vision.
The first Executive Director, Eva Auchincloss, is appointed and heads up the office of the Foundation on only $5,000 and a donated office space in San Mateo, Calif. Athletes like Jane Blalock, Donna de Varona, Chris Evert, Diane Holum, Joan Joyce, Micki King, Karen Logan, Sandra Paulson, Paula Sperber, and Wyomia Tyus were members of the first advisory board.
The Foundation establishes its first grant programs, including summer camp scholarships. Since then, more than $8 million in cash grants and scholarships and $42 million in educational materials and services has been provided to individuals, teams and grassroots organizations.
The first official newsletter is distributed. Today, a monthly e-newsletter is sent out to more than 60,000 members.
Donna de Varona, celebrated Olympic swimmer and sports broadcaster, becomes the Foundation’s first president, setting the standard for athlete involvement in the organization’s leadership. Under her leadership the Foundation initiated Travel & Training Fund grants and impactful, research projects. Still involved with the Foundation, de Varona serves as the Founder’s Circle Chair.
The Women’s Sports Foundation inducts the inaugural class into the newly established International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. The hall of fame recognizes the athletic and coaching achievements of women worldwide; selection is based on records, breakthroughs, innovative style and ongoing commitment to the development of women’s sports. Over a 28 year period, a total of 113 athletes and 21 coaches have been inducted.
The Foundation’s toll-free information line opens helping girls, parents and coaches. Each year, The Foundation receives more than 100,000 requests for information and distributes more than 2 million pieces of material.
The Foundation’s Internship Program begins. More than 500 young professionals have learned professional skills, provided assistance in the implementation of programs and have gone on to successful careers.
The Foundation’s first Travel & Training Fund grants are awarded. To date, more than $1,800,000 has been awarded to help athletes continue to make their dreams of competing at the highest level a reality.
The High School All-Star program begins, recognizing more than 1,700 female athletes. The Foundation granted more than $1,000,000 in college scholarships to deserving high school female athletes during the program’s tenure.
The Women’s Sports Foundation relocates to New York City and hires its second executive director, Deborah Slaner Larkin.
WSF creates the Women’s Sports Journalism Award honoring women’s sports coverage. In the 15 years this award was given, 117 journalists nationwide were honored for excellence in media coverage of women’s sports.
The inaugural National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is held. Since that time, more than 30 years of NGWSD celebrations have acknowledged the past, recognized current sports achievements and celebrated the move toward equality and access for women in sports.
The Foundation publishes The Wilson Report: Moms, Dads, Daughters and Sports, the first large-scale, nationwide intergenerational study of the female sports experience.
Kristi Yamaguchi receives a Travel & Training Fund grant for her athletic success in figure skating. Four years later she becomes the first U.S. woman since Dorothy Hamill in 1976 to win the women’s Olympic figure skating gold medal.
The first “Grants for Girls” are awarded. The program distributes $545,000 over 12 years to fund equipment, facility rentals and apparel for girls’ sports programs across the country. its direct descendant, the GoGirlGo! program, has awarded more than $6 million in grants reaching over 1 million girls.
Soccer player Michelle Akers receives a Travel & Training Fund grant. Nine years later, she is named the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Player of the Century and Best Female Soccer Player Ever.
The Community Awards and Grants Program (later the Community Action Program) is established. Bringing together leaders from youth-serving agencies, schools and businesses to promote girls’ and women’s sports in their communities. Through the Take Action and Spread the Word awards, granted to more than 100 grassroots organizations nationally, communities are encouraged to celebrate participation and support the achievements of girls and women in sport.
The Women’s Sports Foundation gets a “new home” in Nassau County, N.Y., at the Lannin House in Eisenhower Park.
Michelle Kwan is named a recipient of the Travel & Training Fund grant. Four years later, during the 1997-98 season, she becomes the first woman to earn a perfect score at the U.S. national championship when she earns seven 6.0 scores in the short program.
The Athletes’ Speaker Service (now Speaker’s Bureau) is officially launched. Since its inception, hundreds of athletes have educated people at schools, companies and conferences across the country.
The Olympics include 45 Foundation Travel & Training Fund grant recipients. 12 of them win 16 medals incl. Mary Ellen Clark (diving), Kerri Strug (gymnastics) and Brooke Bennett (swimming).
The 1st Wilma Rudolph Courage Award (presented to Jackie Joyner-Kersee) honoring brave female athletes who overcome adversity, inspire others, and significantly contribute to sports.
First site launched. Since then, millions have accessed this valuable Foundation resource globally.
The Foundation publishes The Women’s Sports Foundation Gender Equity Report Card, examining more than 700 National College Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges and universities’ compliance with Title IX.
WSF publishes Sport and Teen Pregnancy. Before this study, there was little or no recognition among teen pregnancy prevention experts and policymakers that athletic participation reduces many girls’ risk for pregnancy.
WSF is granted UN Consultative status to the Economic and Social Council, becoming the first non-governmental sport organization in the world to receive this designation. WSF is also an annual presenter at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
The Foundation publishes Addressing the Needs of Professional and Amateur Athletes, to help National Governing Bodies address issues of importance for female athletes.
Introduced in 2000, the International Olympic Committee awards the Women’s Sports Foundation its first Women and Sport Award for the Americas, recognizing individuals and organizations that have made remarkable contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women through sport.
WSF publishes Health Risks and the Teen Athlete, providing evidence that sports participation fundamentally reduces health risks faced by teen girls.
The first grant in The Project to Eliminate Homophobia in Sports is awarded. An educational curriculum and video, It Takes a Team, created to reach athletes, coaches and administrators nationwide.
GoGirlGo! curriculum and sports education program established. Since then it has been provided to over 15,000 girl-serving organizations reaching more than 1 million girls.
The 2002 Olympic Winter Games take place in Salt Lake City, Utah. Travel & Training Fund grant recipients win four of the 11 Olympic medals earned by United States women and seven medals, four of them being gold, in the Paralympic Games.
WSF helps lead a campaign with a coalition of more than 100 organizations to engineer grassroots demonstrations in seven cities to oppose the administration’s attempts to dismantle Title IX. Without these efforts, high school participation opportunities for women may have fallen by 163,000, college rates by 43,000 and as much as $103,000,000 might be lost in college athletic scholarships annually.
WSF launches the national GoGirlGo! campaign and Atlanta becomes its inaugural Community. Getting 1 million inactive girls moving and keeping active girls participating.
17 Travel & Training Fund grant recipients compete in the Athens Olympics, 4 of whom medal in cycling, rowing, swimming and track & field.
WSF publishes Her Life Depends On It: Sports, Physical Activity, and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls and Women, the first in a focused series.
Chicago becomes the second GoGirlGo! community project.
The Foundation publishes Women in the 2006 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, an analysis of participation, leadership and media coverage. This report examines the extent to which the international and U.S. sports communities provide equitable sports participation and leadership opportunities for women.
San Antonio becomes the third GoGirlGo! community project.
The Foundation publishes Who’s Playing College Sports: Trends in Participation providing the most accurate and comprehensive examination of participation trends to date. Data from almost every higher education institution in the country was analyzed.
Boston becomes the fourth GoGirlGo! community project.
The Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame opens within the Sports Museum of America. The Center hosts the first induction ceremony for the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in its new home.
The Foundation publishes Her Life Depends On It II: Sports, Physical Activity, and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls and Women. As well as Women in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games: An Analysis of Participation, Leadership and Media Opportunities.
Women in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games: An Analysis of Participation, Leadership and Media Opportunities published.
The Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center for Women and Girls is established in partnership with U. of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology and the Institute for Research on Women & Gender.
GoGirlGo! Seattle community launched.
The Foundation publishes Progress Without Equity: The Provision of High School Athletic Opportunity in the United States, by Gender 1993-94 through 2005-06.
WSF’s award-wining curriculum GoGirlGo! is redesigned to reach three age groups: 5-7 year-olds, 8-10 year-olds, and 11-13 year-olds.
The US Dept of State launches Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative. WSF serves as a participant and a mentor as of its Global Sports Mentoring Program. The program pairs emerging female leaders with female senior executives at leading sports organizations for month-long mentorships.
The Decade of Decline: Gender Equity in High School Sports published.
The SHARP Center hosts the Title IX at 40 Conference, celebrating this landmark legislation.
The Foundation publishes the research, Women in the Olympic Games: An Analysis of Participation and Leadership Opportunities.
A study conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation on behalf of the USTA Foundation (formerly USTA Serves), More than a Sport: Tennis, Education and Health, is released.
The International Olympic Committee selects the Foundation’s GoGirlGo! curriculum as a model for youth sports programs worldwide in their “Get Moving: The IOC Guide to Managing Sport For All Programmes materials.
“Sports 4 Life,” the WSF and espnW national grant program launches in an effort to increase the participation and retention rates of African-American and Hispanic girls in sports. To date the initiative has funded 162 different organizations in 32 states (plus Washington D.C. and U.S. Virgin Islands) with $1.6 million in grants reaching 60,000 girls in 50 sports.
In August, the Foundation announces the collective contribution of over $2 million from three major broadcasting companies including NBC Sports Group, ESPN and FOX Sports. The unprecedented, joint effort is a powerful testimony on the importance of women in broadcast and company leadership; it also speaks to the media’s critical role in creating, covering and shaping the stories of female athletes in sports.
The Foundation joins the advisory board at Aspen Institute Project Play Reimagining Youth Sports.
WSF hosts the first Athlete Leadership Connection. The event is an opportunity for these athletes to gain exceptional insight from sports and business leaders.
The Dorothea Deitz Endowed Memorial Scholarship is established and administered by WSF to encourage women in New York to pursue careers in physical education.
The “Hucles Rule” is adopted. It is a hiring guideline ensuring an athlete must be interviewed for each WSF job opening. WSF is an equal opportunity employer.
The Foundation publishes Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College Sports. This groundbreaking research is the first to compare male and female coaches of women’s collegiate teams.
The Foundation launches and hosts the first “Candid Conversations, a series built off the Athlete Leadership Connection providing champion and college athletes with practical experiences and skills to advance their athletic careers and help them transition post-competition.
At the 30th annual NGWSD, representatives attend discussions at the White House. They meet with President Obama’s Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, the Office on Women’s Health, and leaders from the Office for Civil Rights.
WSF publishes Title IX and Girls in Sport Poll Report marking the 45th Anniversary of this landmark legislation. The poll measures Title IX awareness and support as well as attitudes and behaviors surrounding girls’ sports participation.
WSF joins forces with Athlete Ally and over 60 elite athletes from across the globe in opposition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) eligibility regulations for female track athletes.