From 1998 to 2010, the Sports Philanthropy Project (SPP) worked with professional sports teams, team foundations and athletes to leverage their financial resources, popularity and credibility to bolster health and health care programs in their communities. As part of the project, sports teams promoted programs sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to extend health insurance to uninsured people, particularly children.
The teams create coalitions and develop programs to promote better health in their communities, particularly by tackling childhood obesity. For example, the Healthy Youth Partnership between the St. Louis Rams and the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation, addresses childhood obesity through a coalition of more than 70 local groups.
Some 38 professional sports teams promoted two RWJF national programs designed to provide health insurance to more people: Cover the Uninsured Week and Covering Kids & Families®. The teams' efforts included public service announcements and appearances by athletes, cheerleaders and mascots at health fairs and press conferences.
SPP created the Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award and presented it to eight professional sports organizations or athletes from 2005 to 2009. RWJF has since taken over the award.