The She Can Coach campaign encourages more coaching opportunities for women.
Just this past week, the New York Jets hired their first female coach. A few years ago, the Arizona Cardinals trail-blazed the path by hiring Dr. Jen Welter, the first ever female training camp intern. The San Antonio Spurs, always one of the most visionary teams in professional sports, have the first ever full-time female assistant coach. She also just happened to have coached the summer league team to the championship.
Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of female coaches and role models. As a result, Up2Us Sports is launching She Can Coach, a fundraising and awareness campaign. Up2Us is an organization “dedicated to transforming the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable youth by hiring and training coaches who will inspire their success on and off the field.”
According to the organization’s blog, She Can Coach is “focused on the importance of growing opportunities for women to coach and ensuring young girls in vulnerable communities have great female role models in their lives.” Research shows that girls drop out of youth sports at a higher rate than boys due to the correlation of not having a same-sex role model. Thus, it’s necessary to have more female coaches and role models at the highest levels so that we provide women with the greatest path to success.
The organization has already placed over 2,000 coach-mentors in at-risk communities. The money raised in this campaign will:
Click here to read more.
Mario Lemieux Foundation luncheon and fundraiser brings in $150,000 for playrooms in medical facilities.
Each year, Nathalie Lemieux, wife of Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux, hosts a special luncheon and silent auction for the most influential women in Pittsburgh. The annual gathering is in support of their uniquely personal foundation initiative, Austin’s Playroom Project. The program, chaired by Nathalie, was created out of the Lemieuxs’ experience with their premature son, Austin. The family spent 71 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which was difficult on their two young daughters. The couple realized that many medical centers lack space for young children, whether patients or relatives of patients, to play. The Mario Lemieux Foundation decided to create Austin’s Playroom Project to fund playrooms in medical facilities across Western Pennsylvania. They seek to improve the quality of a child’s hospital experience by providing safe, calming, and comfortable areas to relax and have fun.
All proceeds from the annual luncheon are reserved for a specific playroom in a predetermined hospital. This year's recipient is Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh North – Same Day Surgical Services Center.
What makes this strategy so effective is that there’s a tangible outcome every event. Each year, the community knows that money will go towards one specific playroom that will positively impact children and be around for the long haul. Since the event’s inception in 2000, “Over $1 million has been raised for the creation of playrooms for children and families in medical facilities,” and 33 playrooms have been created to help children and families, according to the foundation’s website. This year, the event was on Thursday, May 18, and it was one of their most successful events to date, bringing in over $150,000.
Click here to read more.
After 20 years, FIBA decides Muslim female athletes can wear hijabs during games.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has made a long-awaited decision concerning religious headgear, and fans around the world are celebrating. Up until this year, FIBA banned hijabs, turbans, and yarmulkes during competition, citing safety concerns for the athletes. The unanimous vote this past month lifts the ban, clearing the path for more and more people to play basketball.
The fight to lift the ban has been years in the making and has been championed by many organizations and individuals across the globe. A few years ago, American-Muslim basketball player Indira Kajlo emerged as the cause’s mouthpiece, campaigning for FIBA to overturn its 20-year-old rule. Kajlo corralled support from women in the U.S., Sweden, Turkey, India, and the U.K. For Kajlo, the campaign was deeply personal. Upon deciding to wear a hijab, Kajlo had to give up her career and passion as a professional basketball player. Most recently, on the heels of Kajlo’s campaign and online petition, new organizations joined the fight. Athlete Ally, an anti-discrimination organization, partnered with Shirzanan, an advocacy organization for Muslim women, teamed up to pen a letter to FIBA which was signed by more than two dozen prominent athletes.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Muslim female athletes have had to decide between faith and sports. Still, progress is being made across all sports to loosen restrictions and respect religious freedoms. FIBA’s ruling will go into effect in October 2017. It requires the headgear be black, or the same color of the uniform, and it cannot cover any part of the face or have securing elements around the face or neck.
Nonprofits and athletes are not the only ones to have weighed in on this issue. A month before the ruling came down, Nike debuted its first sport hijab with a poignant campaign around equal access to sport. Unquestionably, both Nike and FIBA are late to the game to support Muslim athletes, but nevertheless, overturning the rule is monumental for women’s basketball. Salim al-Mutawa'a, head of the United Arab Emirates' basketball association, explained, “When other Arab women see a Muslim playing professionally, that encourages them to play as well. There's no reason for them not to play now; nothing is stopping them.” Instead of worrying about a uniform, Muslim female basketball players can focus on their craft and pursuing the many opportunities that basketball can provide.
Click here to read more.
World Sport Chicago uses its annual event to empower the city to end the cycle of violence in Chicago.
It’s no secret that Chicago is plagued by deadly gun violence and crippling poverty. Young boys and girls are roped into gang involvement at an early age, and it is seemingly impossible to free them of their situations. One Chicago-based nonprofit has set out to change that through the power of sport.
World Sport Chicago (WSC) was established out of Chicago’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2008. The city used their funds to establish WSC with the mission of providing equal access to sport and play to underserved communities. They believe that youth sports can actually change the trajectory of entire neighborhoods, and their programming aims to connect kids to mentors, safe spaces, and support networks to help them avoid violence.
Just recently, WSC hosted its annual fundraiser, Spin to Break the Cycle. The day-long indoor cycling event brought over 700 Chicagoans together to break the cycle of violence and invest in the future of Chicago’s youth. Led by the city’s top spin instructors, participants rode in hour-long shifts, encouraged by a high energy DJ, followed by a complimentary massage and a healthy meal. WSC brought in dozens of its youth participants to meet riders and motivate them through the workout.
The event brought in more than $200,000, but one of the most impressive features of the event was the use of social media to market the event in real-time. The backdrop of the space included participants’ and donors’ tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook statuses. The massive display encouraged riders and engaged those who were unable to participate that day. On the day of the event, WSC saw over 360,000 impressions online and over 450,000 in the week leading up to it. Their social media use generated a 20% increase in Instagram followers and 51% increase in Facebook page visits. One rider went live on Facebook, garnered almost 14,000 views and raised over $3,000 in an hour! WSC invested in their online presence, and it paid off in a big way.
World Sport Chicago’s signature event continues to support its life-changing initiatives in the city’s most under-resourced areas. Funds raised empower youth, and subsequently, entire communities to unlock their potential and create stronger, safer, and healthier places to live.
Click here to read more.
Athletes for Hope celebrates ten years of athletes using their platforms for good.
Athletes for Hope is a non-profit founded in 2007, by some of the top athletes in the world, in the hopes of creating an organization that brings athletes together to make a positive impact in the community. According to their website, Athletes for Hope aims “to educate, encourage and assist athletes in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable issues, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same.” So many athletes want to give back, but they’re unsure of how to begin or what that process looks like. In comes Athletes for Hope to connect the dots between athletes and the causes they’re passionate about. A dozen leaders in the industry took it upon themselves to create an organization that harnessed the innate competitive spirit of athletes and channeled it into something positive.
Over the past decade, Athletes for Hope has created over 2,000 connections between athletes and charities and their membership has grown to over 3,000 athletes. According to their website, the fastest growing initiative is Athletes for Hope University (AFH-U), which provides workshops for college teams as well as engage student-athletes in discussions about how to serve in the communities they live in during their time on campus. This program has grown to 5 college campuses with the goal of reaching more this year. This provides students with the opportunity to experience impactful community service and obtain the benefits of student leadership and governance.
Athletes for Hope has helped hundreds of non-profits advocate for their initiatives. They’re able to connect their athletes with existing missions to amplify an organization’s message and create awareness around the world.
Click here to read more.