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.
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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.
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Read how Figure Skating in Harlem, Inc. won Beyond Sport’s Sport For Education Award.
Figure Skating in Harlem, Inc. has won Beyond Sport’s Sport For Education Award for its innovative ICE program. ICE: I Can Excel after-school program uses figure skating to reach impoverished girls of color in inner city New York and improve their academic performance, physical health, and emotional well-being. Participants develop life skills, receive academic tutoring, and cultivate skating skills.
Figure skating is historically a predominantly white sport, so ICE is groundbreaking in that it targets black and brown girls. Yet, it goes several steps beyond that and also incorporates classes in financial literacy, STEM, and college readiness. Each girl has access to tutors, teachers, social workers, counselors, and skating coaches. The all-encompassing programming sets each girl on a path to good grades and healthy living.
At the same time, the sport itself is being diversified. Often, it only takes one athlete’s success to show that everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion should have access to all sports. Ibtihaj Muhammad’s success in fencing has empowered Muslim girls to pursue the sport. Simone Manual broke barriers in the pool proving to black girls everywhere that swimming is an option for them. ICE is providing access to sport in communities that typically are ignored, not just by the skating community, but by most sports outside of basketball and football.
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