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Beyond Sport 2023: Highlights From a Year of Growth

December 15, 2023 

In 2023, Beyond Sport was able to push our work beyond borders, expanding to new regions, deepening our investment in existing ones and covering new social issue areas – youth mental wellbeing in the US and healthy living in Southeast Asia. In collaboration with purpose-driven partners and brands, we were excited to launch three new programs, expand our geographic footprint and substantially grow our grants to the sector.

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We are on a mission to invest in organizations, programs and networks using sport to positively impact communities globally. In a year of exponential growth, we were proud to welcome new funding and grantee partners to our global network.

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  • *New in 2023* Read how we’re working to improve youth mental wellbeing in the US and keep young people’s Head In The Game with the Z Zurich Foundation in collaboration with Zurich North America 
  • *New in 2023* Read how we’re helping to Transform Young Lives through sport as part of a retail donation campaign with Under Armour across the UK and eight European countries 
  • *New in 2023* Read about our plans to use Hoops + Health to support Asian youth to be more physically active through revitalizing courts and coach workshops with Sun Life
  • Read how we’re Breaking Limits around the world with Rexona (also known as Sure, Degree or Shield), equipping young people with the confidence and opportunity to move more 
  • Read all the latest from an eventful year for our Return to Play Fund co-founded by ESPN and The Sport Together Fund 
  • Watch how five young leaders are epitomizing the Courageous Use of Sport in their communities presented with WWE
  • Read how we’re helping tackle inequities for diverse British youth with the NFL Foundation UK supported by Mayor of London

We have exciting news coming for 2024 and beyond – stay tuned! If you’d like to learn more about our programs, please email [email protected].

With a vision to increase sport’s role in social change globally, Beyond Sport is committed to providing capacity-building tools, resources and collaborative platforms for knowledge sharing and connection.

Building Capacity

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Many of our programs now offer leadership and coach training to practitioners working in sport for social change. This year, through Head In The Game, we facilitated free athlete-focused mental wellbeing sessions for hundreds of youth sport coaches in the US delivered by Doc Wayne and the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport. Through the Rexona Breaking Limits Training Series, coach development is being prioritized at all levels through a digital, multilingual platform co-created with leading sport for development NGOs. Additionally, our DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation partnership targeted small organizations, providing seven virtual workshops to Houston, Texas based organizations on governance, marketing, coach education and volunteer engagement.

Our Funds are also facilitating knowledge building. The first round of Sport Together Fund grants focused on leadership training opportunities for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable communities while the Return to Play Fund is supporting nonprofit RISE to hold DEI workshops for organizations and coaches on the revitalized sports spaces revitalized by love.fútbol. This Fund also provides a range of digital resources for parents, youth and coaches to promote active youth, inclusivity and mental and physical wellbeing.

Building Platforms For Change

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Since our beginnings, Beyond Sport has provided platforms to educate, build connections and inspire. This continued in 2023, in London, New York and virtually. Here are three of them:

Sport Together Fund In Action

In April, the 10th edition of SportsPro Live took place at the Kia Oval in London attended by thousands of sports business professionals. Taking advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness on global forced displacement, Beyond Sport hosted a booth where attendees could learn more about the Fund and a panel on how sport can support, uplift and rebuild communities facing humanitarian crises around the world. Read about it here.

At our 24-Hour Challenge in June, members of the sport industry gathered at our offices for an endurance event to raise funds to support refugees and asylum seekers. Teams cycled for an ambitious goal -- to virtually cover the distance between London, England and Kyiv, Ukraine -- in recognition of the millions displaced from the region since the war began. Read the event recap.

Beyond Sport Development Series

In October, we launched a new, interactive series in London for nonprofit sport for social change leaders. With a goal to bring peers together to foster dialogue and collaboration on topics selected by invited attendees, it also provides a platform to build professional networks. This first event focused on the “second pandemic” – namely the youth mental health crisis exacerbated and triggered by COVID. Studies have shown that while young people are increasingly struggling, they are not receiving sufficient support.

We were pleased to have experts from The Change Foundation, Navjeet Sira, Yvette Santana and Grace Ekewuba, share their personal experiences, their insights on sport’s role in providing support and answer questions from their peers. This was followed by Beyond Sport-facilitated roundtables addressing: (1) coaching through a mental wellbeing lens, (2) strategies to embed mental health provision for staff and volunteers throughout organizations, (3) how to map the availability of mental health experts nationally and locally, and (4) building support for their work on mental wellbeing.

Through virtual workshops, future series events will expand to additional locations with topics likely to include working with displaced populations, climate conscious programming, sport for social change trends, NGO management, MEL and fundraising.

Beyond Sport United

In November, our signature annual forum convened representatives from professional sport and social impact in New York City to focus on social justice and equity. Centered on "Challenge To Opportunity: Driving Equity Through Sport," attendees took a deep dive into three of the biggest current US equity-based issues: Civic Engagement, Discrimination and Representation and Climate Equity. Read the event recap.

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Amplifying Sport With Intention 

Beyond Sport is proud to showcase and celebrate the stories of our global network who are strengthening communities through sport. Across the year, we published 55 features on organizations and individuals across 18 countries on topics ranging from inclusion for people with disabilities to youth mentorship by professional sport teams to increasing access to sport for girls and more.

• Check out 10 of our most highly read stories of 2023
Read how two organizations nearly 10.6km apart built a partnership through Beyond Sport

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Our Top Network In Actions of 2023