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Sports 4 Life: Increasing participation in youth sports by African-American and Hispanic girls

May 7, 2015

Last month, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), and national partner espnW--a media platform for women who love sports--announced the 2015 grantees for its Sports 4 Life initiative. Sports 4 Life is a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in youth sports programs. WSF, the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports, has awarded $110,000 in funding to 22 grantees to serve more than 6,800 middle and high school girls across the nation.

The link between sports participation and the prevention of chronic diseases, like diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular diseases, is well-established, especially for African-American and Hispanic females who display lower rates of participation than their peers. By making sports more accessible, Sports 4 Life gives young females the chance to learn the foundational benefits of sports, such as leadership, confidence, self-esteem, and perseverance.

“The Foundation believes in the transformative power of sports, be it learning how to live a healthy life, how to be a leader or how to work in a team, and is committed to expanding access to sports for girls in diverse communities,” said Angela Hucles, WSF president and two-time Olympic and World Cup medalist in soccer. “Alongside espnW, we take our mission to provide and connect young female athletes with these opportunities seriously – cost, safety or transportation will no longer be an obstacle for girls to get in the game.”

In its first year, the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW grant will help organizations representing 14 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to create or expand developmental youth sports programs serving predominately girls of color.

“We have seen the positive impact that playing sports has on the health and wellness of girls on a global and national level, as well as overall self-esteem and confidence that carries over into the classroom,” said Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW. “Through this collaboration with Women’s Sports Foundation, espnW has an opportunity to reach young girls who have yet to be introduced to the power of sports and show them how sports can be their toolkit for achieving success in all aspects of life.”

“At ESPN, we’re inspired everyday by the countless stories of women and girls whose lives have been impacted through sports,” added Christine Driessen, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, ESPN, and WSF board member. “We’ve been proud to work hand-in-hand with the Women’s Sports Foundation for many years to help advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.”

The 19 latest grantees will join three model programs, including PowerPlay NYC, Girls in the Game and Sporty Girls, Inc., to demonstrate how funding can be used to recruit and grow sports participation by girls in these communities.

The Foundation will begin accepting applications for 2016 this fall. For information and timelines about the 2016 grant cycle, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.