Bronx, NY – South Bronx United announced today it received a Sports 4 Life grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). The Sports 4 Life program, cofounded by the WSF and espnW, supports organizations that provide developmental youth sports opportunities to girls of color to help them develop in four foundational areas: leadership, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance – with the expectation that growth in these areas will also support girls’ physical and emotional health and academic success.
Entering this year, the South Bronx had the highest poverty rate of any Congressional District in the nation and the lowest health outcomes of any county in the state of New York. Now, the Bronx is the borough hardest hit by the coronavirus, with the highest fatality rate and the most hospitalizations in a city that is arguably the epicenter of a global pandemic. Throughout this extraordinary time, South Bronx United has remained committed to fighting for equity and opportunity for South Bronx youth and their families, providing online tutoring, academic advocacy, counseling, immigration assistance, critical information on government programs, health and fitness resources, soccer training videos, and material needs (e.g. laptops, food delivery credit, emergency college scholarships).
“It has been amazing to be part of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s network over the past few years. We were especially thrilled to receive this Sport 4 Life grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation and their partner, espnW,” said Andrew So, Executive Director of South Bronx United. “Our organization strives to provide impactful and equitable opportunities for girls to play soccer, build character and leadership skills, and prepare for college and careers. We have continued to deliver mentoring, academic supports, and girls groups that have been so important to South Bronx girls remotely during these times of social distancing due to Covid-19. This additional funding will allow us to continue growing girls programs and adding opportunities like these, rather than scaling back.” SBU specifically aims to increase girls’ enrollment and retention. Outreach for participants has targeted local schools and community organizations, focusing on girls who are not already involved in organized sports. This school year, SBU is on track for the highest program completion rates for girls in the SBU Academy: 96%, in comparison to 84% and 77% the past two years. SBU also has enrolled more girls in its community programs than any previous year. Additionally, SBU also can gauge its impact through the anecdotal experiences of its participants. So explained, “this additional support will allow us to measure several key outcomes that align with the program’s primary goals:
- Keep at-risk youth away from gangs, violence, and risky behaviors and engaged in positive, character-building activities.
- Increase academic achievement, college readiness, and college awareness.
- Increase educational attainment, particularly high school graduation, college enrollment, and college success.
As the dual crisis of a global pandemic and the long-standing impact of racial injustice continue to grip the country, the goal and support of initiatives like Sports 4 Life is more important than ever before. Research has shown that sports participation offers tremendous life-long benefits, from improved physical health and self-esteem to better grades in school and enhanced leadership skills. Yet young girls of color are disproportionately excluded from sports access and participation.
South Bronx United joins the 2020 class of Sports 4 Life community partners that includes 25 organizations in 14 states including Washington D.C., representing 23 different sports. Altogether, these programs are expected to serve more than 7,700 middle and high school girls.
“This year is certainly unlike any other, yet the very core of the Sports 4 Life initiative remains steadfast – to use the power of sport to support, encourage and inspire girls of color to unlock their full potential,” said WSF CEO Deborah Antoine. “These incredibly vital community programs are finding creative ways to keep their girls engaged, from online camps to virtual one-on-one coaching, to delivering supplies and equipment to girls’ homes. All are working hard to turn this difficult time into an opportunity for growth. WSF is proud of this initiative and its continued relevance and impact, and are grateful for our partnership with espnW.”
Since its inception in 2014, the Sports 4 Life initiative has reached 163 community organizations in 32 states – plus Washington D.C. and U.S. Virgin Islands – with over $1.9 million in grants reaching more than 67,000 girls in over 50 sports. Half of the girls reached by Sports 4 Life programming were not previously participating in sports with regularity, and nearly all girls were interested in continuing sports after participating in Sports 4 Life funded programming.
“The espnW team is so proud of the program and the tens of thousands of young girls it’s reached over the past six years,” said Rachel Epstein, ESPN senior director, Emerging Properties & Brands. “We know the power of sports in changing lives, building self-esteem, developing leadership skills, and championing the importance of teamwork. With the Women’s Sports Foundation, we continue to take necessary steps and effect much-needed change in addressing the inequities that exist for girls of color in sports today.”
“We are thrilled to continue espnW’s collaboration with the Women’s Sports Foundation on the Sports 4 Life program,” said Alison Overholt, ESPN senior vice president, Multiplatform Storytelling and Journalism. “In the six years since Sports 4 Life’s inception, the program has made an indelible impact on young girls of color in sports. ESPN’s dedication to women and girls through our storytelling has never been stronger, and our passion for improving lives through sports starts with our content and our commitment to programs like Sports 4 Life.”
Full list of 2020 Sport 4 Life grant recipients
About South Bronx United
South Bronx United uses soccer as a tool for social change. South Bronx United aims to help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond. South Bronx United strives to promote educational achievement, health and wellness, and character development through activities on and off the soccer field and to unite a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals. https://www.southbronxunited.org/
About the Women’s Sports Foundation
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. The Women’s Sports Foundation has positively shaped 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.
South Bronx United
Women’s Sports Foundation