The WNBPA has announced that they will award four community grants to different charitable organizations that are in line with the values and priorities of the players league wide. The four organizations - Girls Who Code, the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign, the Greater Houston Community Foundation for Hurricane Harvey relief, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, will each receive a $35,000 grant. Interestingly, the grants are funded from fines and suspensions levied by the WNBA during the previous two seasons.
Nneka Ogwumike, President of the Players Association, explained that the arrangement is a part of the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement. Half of the money funds organizations of the WNBAPA's choice with approval by the WNBA, and the other half funds organizations chosen by the WNBA with the WNBAPA's approval.
Though not as visible, WNBA players have been on the frontlines of social justice advocacy work from the very beginning. Players have been united in advocating for Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights, and more. This arrangement is a perfect example of how professional athletes can turn the corner from advocacy to philanthropy. The funds donated will make a tangible difference in their communities, specifically for young girls who are facing challenges as varied as racial discriminations to infectious diseases. Moreover, this WNBAPA/WNBA partnership spotlights proactive rather than reactive philanthropy. The fact that the terms were written into the CBA proves the leaders were thoughtful about what to do with fine monies and determined a creative way to turn a negative situation into positive impact. Other professional leagues should look to the WNBAPA as a model for effective philanthropy.
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