ESPN Bolsters Commitment to Access to Sports for Youth of Color at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit 2020

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ESPN Bolsters Commitment to Access to Sports for Youth of Color at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit 2020

At Least 60% of All Access to Sports Social Investments in 2021 to Be Directed Toward Programs for Black & African-American Youth

Today at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit 2020, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro announced that ESPN will ensure that at least 60 percent of all its social investments that provide access and empowerment through sports next year are directed towards programs for Black and African-American youth. The total value of these grants will exceed $1 million.

In addition to this commitment, Pitaro also previewed several data points that will be released in a larger summative evaluation study on Sports 4 Life, a joint program with the Women’s Sports Foundation that has impacted more than 60,000 girls of color over five years.

“Playing team sports has been invaluable to me — I’ve learned so much on the court and field that has helped me navigate my career,” said Pitaro. “When Black, Brown and other kids of color don’t have the same opportunity to play sports, that’s fundamentally wrong. That’s why ESPN remains committed to helping kids who have less access to sports, particularly Black and African-American youth, not only stay in the game but to develop skills that will empower them throughout their entire lives.”






Profiles of Beat the Streets (left) and Lost Boyz (right), two organizations supported by ESPN

and Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sports 4 Life Program. Profiles courtesy of ABC’s Localish.

Sports 4 Life aims to increase participation in sports for Black and Hispanic girls, while helping them to build important life skills, including leadership, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance. ESPN has contributed $1.4 million to the program since its inception, and has impacted more than 60,000 girls of color through sport. The study that the WSF just completed looked at the impact of the program over the last five years, and found that:

  • 86 percent of the girls saw themselves as leaders after going through the program
  • More than 80 percent felt their program had helped them get better grades and stay focused
  • 92 percent of girls felt their bodies were getting healthier

The initiative, co-founded by WSF and national partner espnW in 2014, is 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. Sports 4 Life was designed to help increase participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls in developmental youth sports programs. Inspired by their organizations’ beliefs that sports can unlock possibilities for girls and transform their lives.

For more information, please visit Front Row for a note from Kevin Martinez, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, ESPN.


Media Contacts:

Olivia, Wilson, ESPN                             (904) 303-3538 or [email protected]

Olivia Coryell

Based out of Austin, Texas, Olivia Coryell is a communications manager focusing on ESPN+, The Walt Disney Company's leading direct-to-consumer sports streaming service. In her time at ESPN, Coryell has worked on communications efforts for X Games, Brand Marketing, Corporate Citizenship, esports and more. Coryell is a proud graduate of Florida State University.
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