Naomi Osaka’s Play Academy Branches Out to LA and Haiti

Play Academy with Naomi Osaka is expanding to Los Angeles and Haiti to continue to change the lives of girls through play and sport.

Play Academy with Naomi Osaka was launched in 2020 to create real change in the lives of girls. (Image credit: Nike)
Play Academy with Naomi Osaka was launched in 2020 to create real change in the lives of girls. (Image credit: Nike)

Announced in August of 2020, Play Academy with Naomi Osaka was created in partnership with Laureus Sport for Good with the goal to help change young girls’ lives through play and sport. Building on its work in Japan, Play Academy is expanding to Los Angeles and Haiti, collaborating with local sport-based organizations that are helping encourage a new definition of movement for the next generation of girls.

Essential to Play Academy is Osaka’s personal experiences as an athlete, set by a rich transcontinental heritage that has shaped her views on sport, racial and gender equality and mentorship. With a mission so close to her heart, Osaka wanted to champion those causes in communities she knows and is deeply connected to – starting in Japan, where she was born, and continuing to Los Angeles and Haiti, where she currently lives and where her father is from, respectively.

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Girls Leadership Celebrates 12 Years with “Power of Voice” Benefit

On Wednesday, March 10th, girls, funders, parents, activists, and leaders all over the country gathered for Girls Leadership’s 12th anniversary celebration. The “Power of Voice” Benefit featured honorees and speakers Billie Jean King, Marley Dias, Meena Harris, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and Suni Harford.

The all-ages event opened with Alicia Menendez, television host and past intern with Girls Leadership, offering thanks and celebration to the event’s sponsors. Menendez also introduced the theme of the evening, “power of voice,” which honors women’s suffrage and collaborative efforts for social and gender justice.

Following an introductory video from the Co-CEOs, Takai Taylor and Simone Marean, J-Rey Soul (who you might know from the Black Eyed Peas and The Voice: Philippines) performed an original song in honor of Girls Leadership.

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Serena Williams Funds Opportunities for Black Small-Business Owners

For Black History month, Serena Williams Jewelry will be donating a portion of proceeds to Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund.

Serena Williams Jewelry seeks to support black women and black small-business owners by donating proceeds to Opportunity Fund. (Image credit: Business Wire)
Serena Williams Jewelry seeks to support black women and black small-business owners by donating proceeds to Opportunity Fund. (Image credit: Business Wire)

Tennis icon, fashion and jewelry designer Serena Williams is extending her support of Opportunity FundThroughout February, a portion of proceeds from Serena Williams Jewelry will benefit Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund, directly supporting Black small-business owners.

With the creation of jewelry that reflects Serena’s positivity, determination and generosity comes a renewed commitment to the community, emblematic of her unstoppable desire to support others in a meaningful way. Purchasing a necklace or bracelet from Serena Williams Jewelry Unstoppable collection not only enhances a woman’s accessory wardrobe, but also gives her a sense of empowerment by helping others.

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Sports 4 Life Delivers Big Benefits for Girls of Color

Sports 4 Life is a national initiative co-founded by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and espnW. It was established in 2014 and seeks to increase participation of girls of color in youth sports. It has so far impacted over 60,000 girls of color, and its recently released report shows gains in girls’ leadership, self-esteem, confidence and perseverance resulting from their participation in the program.

(Photo Credit: Sports 4 Life)


2020 has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice. Improving the physical and mental health—and leadership capacities—of girls of color is one way to help them navigate COVID and beyond. The WSF and espnW (“a voice for the woman who loves sports”), Sports 4 Life partnership is funding local sports programs, filling in the gaps to access and opportunity that often confront girls of color.

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Phaidra Knight Elected President of Women’s Sports Foundation

New York, N.Y. (September 30, 2020): The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) announced today its president-elect and two new members joining the Board of Trustees. World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight was voted in as president-elect, and is joined by newly-elected Board members Brett Goodman and LaChina Robinson. Knight has been serving as a WSF Trustee since 2018, and now Goodman and Robinson join the elite group of cross-sector experts that help guide the Women’s Sports Foundation’s operations as well as its mission, to unlock the possibilities in every girl and woman through the power of sport.

Phaidra Knight was voted in as president-elect of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and is joined by newly-elected board members Brett Goodman and LaChina Robinson. (Image credit: WSF)

“We are thrilled for Phaidra and excited to welcome Brett and LaChina – amazing professionals who are fellow game-changers in our fight for gender equity in sports,” said WSF CEO, Deborah Antoine. “Each brings a wonderfully diverse range of knowledge and experiences to WSF, and we look forward to working together, and advancing our mission, to unlock the potential of girls and women in sport and in life.”

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Sports 4 Life Grants Aim to Increase Sports for Girls of Color

Sports 4 Life, a national initiative co-founded by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and espnW (“a voice for the woman who loves sports”), was established in 2014 to increase participation of girls of color in youth sports. Recently, Sports 4 Life announced their 2020 grants which will help African American and Latino girls overcome barriers to sports participation.

Twenty-five organizations based in 13 states and Washington, D.C. received the awards which totaled $175,000. The grants aim to augment and diversify sports opportunities for more than 7,700 middle and high school girls, and included funding for programs representing 23 different sports.

(Photo Credit: Sports 4 Life)

The impetus for Sports 4 Life is the recognition that the benefits of participation in sports—which include improved physical and mental health, as well as better grades and improved leadership skills—often disproportionately exclude African American and Latino girls. Historic racial injustices lie at the root of disparities in access to sports participation, and these gaps have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Platforms for Good: Summer Sanders and Plan International USA

On February 20, 2020, global development organization Plan International USA announced its newest Ambassador, Summer Sanders Schlopy.

An Olympic athlete and most decorated U.S. swimmer in the 1992 Olympics, Summer is known for using her platform for good. She rose to precedence as a member of Stanford’s swimming team, taking on the 1992 National Championship and Olympic Games. In Barcelona, Summer became the most decorated U.S. swimmer with one bronze, one silver, and two gold medals.

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Summer Sanders Schlopy joins Plan International USA as their newest celebrity ambassador. (Photo Credit: Outside Online)

In the early 1990s, Summer turned to television, commentating the NCAA Swimming Championships for CBS Sports, and hosting MTV’s surf-and-sun competition show Sandblast. Her numerous television accolades include correspondent, co-host, and host for a range of sporting events, TV series, and competition shows.

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With Research and Equity Project, WSF Raises Stakes

WSF releases new national research report – Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women – a comprehensive, current landscape analysis;

And launches The Equity Project, a new national campaign to galvanize leaders across sectors to help drive paradigm-shifting change that transcends sports

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — With the start of a new decade, 2020, and the golden anniversary of Title IX on the near horizon, 2022, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is staking a bold stand to gain true, lasting equity for girls and women in sports and beyond. Today the Foundation released its new national research report – Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women – a comprehensive analysis of the current landscape and all its challenges, barriers, progress and opportunities, accompanied by a robust aggregate of calls to action to drive change.

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Own Your Power: Elizabeth Yntema on Gender Equality in Dance

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (DDP), which promotes “equity in all aspects of classical ballet by providing a metrics-based analysis through our database while showcasing women-led companies, festivals, competitions, venues, special programs and initiatives.” 

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Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (courtesy: Elizabeth Yntema)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had had a female mentor, and she had reassured me that success isn’t defined by a linear path. I have been a corporate attorney, a lobbyist, worked as the Director of Governmental Affairs of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, was employed part-time as a consultant, opened an art gallery and, with three small children, focused on volunteering for a time. Now, I use every single one of my experiences and skills acquired over the decades. 

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Vermont Women’s Fund Helps Girls’ Soccer Team Open #EqualPay DAF

Burlington High School Soccer Players Score First Youth-Led Fund at Vermont Community Foundation

Members of the Burlington High School girls’ varsity soccer team have collaborated with the Vermont Women’s Fund to open the first youth-led donor advised fund at the Vermont Community Foundation. The young players’ new #EqualPay Fund will increase access for girls to soccer programs and accelerate progress to close the wage gap in Vermont—where, on average, women earn 84 cents to every dollar earned by men.

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Burlington High School girls’ varsity soccer players have collaborated with the Vermont Women’s Fund to open the first youth-led donor advised fund at the Vermont Community Foundation (Photo Credit: Vermont Women’s Fund)

Initially, the project started as a local fundraiser selling #EqualPay jerseys to support the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League (GBGSL). The soccer players wanted to emulate their heroes on the U.S. Women’s National Team and amplify their #EqualPay message. The young players sought out logistical and strategic support from Change The Story VT, an initiative fueled by the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women that is committed to fast-tracking women’s economic security to benefit women, their families, and the Vermont economy. Change The Story helped source and produce the special-label jerseys similar to the USWNT uniforms and advised the team on fundraising strategy.

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