The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) announced the 2022 grant recipients of the Sports 4 Life program – a national initiative, co-founded with espnW and supported by Gatorade, to increase sport participation and retention of Black, African-American, Hispanic and Native American girls throughout the country. This year, a total of $280,000 has been awarded to 40 organizations across 23 states, and Washington, D.C., helping to fuel and diversify sports opportunities for nearly 6,000 girls across 40 traditional and non-traditional sports.
Sports 4 Life was launched in 2014 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 – girls of color are disproportionately excluded. WSF’s Title IX research report, “50 Years of Title IX: We’re Not Done Yet” published earlier this year, clearly shows that girls and women of color participate in sport at lower levels, face greater barriers to participation, and are historically excluded in sport leadership. This program seeks to close this gap by strengthening and expanding opportunities for sports participation.
This year’s Sports 4 Life recipients cover a gamut of traditional and non-traditional sports opportunities for girls, including boxing, fencing, lacrosse, mountain biking, pickleball, rugby, soccer and more. Thirty-three of the 40 grant recipient programs are new to Sports 4 Life funding – further expanding the reach of this powerful initiative.
Sports 4 Life supports programs that help girls in four foundational areas – leadership, confidence, self-esteem, and perseverance – fostering girls’ physical and emotional health and academic success. Last year, WSF rolled out a new discussion guide focused on developing girls’ confidence, which supplemented the program’s guide on leadership.
“Sports 4 Life plays an integral role in ensuring that girls of color have equal access to the transformative benefits of sports,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “We are proud to have worked with the Women’s Sports Foundation for more than eight years in a continued commitment to get more girls, who may not otherwise have access, playing.”
According to WSF’s Sports 4 Life seven-year impact report (2014-2020), only 17% of the girls reached by Sports 4 Life programming were previously participating in sports with regularity, and nearly all girls were interested in continuing sports after participating in Sports 4 Life funded programming.
“Continuing to help break down barriers in sport so more girls have access to play is a shared mission between Gatorade and the Women’s Sports Foundation. Through our Fuel Tomorrow initiative and long-standing espnW partnership, we’re looking forward to making a positive impact in the community with Sports 4 Life,” said Jen Schmit, Gatorade senior director of community marketing.
The Sports 4 Life initiative strengthens and expands sport participation opportunities for girls of color through its grant making, leadership training and capacity-building efforts. Since its inception, the initiative has funded 203 organizations across 37 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, providing $2 million in grants to 75,000 girls participating in 44 sports.
Learn more and meet our 2022 grant recipients here.
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. From its inception to Title IX’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WSF has invested over $100 million in these impact efforts, helping to shape the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All girls. All women. All sports.® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.
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.
The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), meets the needs of consumers who participate in sports and fitness, through brands that include Gatorade, Propel, Fast Twitch, Muscle Milk, and Evolve. The solutions they provide are driven by a deep understanding of the unique occasions and needs across athletic activity. Gatorade, their marquee brand, is underpinned by a 56-year history of studying the best athletes in the world, and sports nutrition research by the Gatorade Sport Science Institute, allowing it to provide scientifically formulated products that meet athletes’ needs both on and off the field. For more information and a full list of products, please visit www.gatorade.com.
Women’s Sports Foundation