The Women's Sports Foundation Announces its 2023 Sports 4 Life Grant Recipients - Using the Power of Sport for Girls of Color to Play and Thrive

14 December 2023

The Women's Sports Foundation announced the 2023 grant recipients for the Sports 4 Life Program – a national initiative, co-founded with ESPN, and supported by Gatorade – that utilizes the power of sport to build a solid foundation for girls of color to thrive on and off the field of play. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024, this powerful initiative continues to fill in the gaps to access and opportunity to sport by increasing 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 – 27 of these organizations serving girls with disabilities – across 23 states, and Washington, D.C., helping to fuel and diversify sports opportunities for more than 5,300 girls across 25 traditional, non-traditional, and adaptive sports.

Since its inception, the Sports 4 Life initiative has funded 219 organizations across 37 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, providing $2.3 million in grants to 80,000 girls participating in over 40 sports. The program supports community organizations that help girls in four foundational areas – leadership, confidence, self-esteem, and perseverance – fostering girls' physical and emotional health and academic success, and all community organizations who receive grant funding are equipped with WSF step-by-step discussion guides to help program leaders teach these skills successfully.

"We at the Women's Sports Foundation know that sport participation is building the leaders of tomorrow, and to ensure a truly equitable future, it is vital for all girls to be able to play without barriers," said WSF CEO Danette Leighton. "This powerful initiative would not be possible without our partnership with ESPN and Gatorade, and as we near its 10th anniversary next year, we are grateful for the positive impact it has made in communities throughout the country who lack sport access."

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 research clearly shows that girls of color engage in physical activity at significantly lower rates than their white peers and face greater barriers to participation while historically being excluded from sport leadership. Further, according to WSF's '50 Years of Title IX: We're Not Done Yet' research report, boys with disabilities consistently participate in sports at higher rates than girls with disabilities. By supporting and utilizing the power of youth sports programs, this initiative provides girls with the critical skills needed to become strong leaders in their sport, in their communities and beyond.

This year's grant recipients cover a gamut of traditional, non-traditional and adaptive sports opportunities for girls, including basketball, volleyball, squash, figure skating, cheerleading, and more. Seventeen of the 40 community organizations are new to Sports 4 Life funding - further expanding the reach of this powerful initiative.

"Over the past decade, ESPN has proudly worked with the Women's Sports Foundation to move the needle for girls of color, including those with disabilities, to have access to sports and foster their physical and emotional health through play," said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. "Sports 4 Life is a proven game changer that instills important life skills that transform young lives."

According to WSF's Communities at the Forefront report, which collected and analyzed data from Sports 4 Life grant recipients , girls were more physically, mentally and socially healthy when participating in Sports 4 Life funded programs, with many reporting that after a single season of participation, they were far more likely to be involved in sports, leadership, and community activities, compared to when they first entered the programs.

"At Gatorade, we believe everyone should have equitable access to sport, and we're proud to work alongside social impact partners like the Women's Sports Foundation who share our ambition to break down barriers for the next generation," said Jennifer Schmit, senior director of Gatorade Community Marketing & Impact. "Together, we've seen firsthand the power sport has to change lives, and we're energized to continue the work so more girls can get in the game."

Learn more and meet our 2023 grant recipients here.

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. 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

About ESPN Corporate Citizenship

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplift the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society's needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets.

About Gatorade

The Gatorade Portfolio, a division of PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), is a connected performance and wellness ecosystem built to fuel all athletes and exercisers. Bringing together Gatorade, Fast Twitch, Propel, Evolve and Muscle Milk, the Gatorade Portfolio is the most complete offering in the category today, with a broad range of personalized solutions at every stage of the athlete journey. This integrated system of brands is built on Gatorade's 57-year history of studying athletes and is fueling the future of athletic performance and wellness by delivering solutions across hydration, protein, energy and all-day nutrition to fuel consumers, no matter how or why they sweat. For more information and a full list of product offerings, please visit

Media Contacts:

Kandice Miller
Women's Sports Foundation
[email protected]

John Manzo
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Rachel Filippini
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