Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces 2013 Winners of the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy

    • September 25, 2013

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today named the San Francisco 49ers, Tony Hawk Foundation (THF), and LA84 Foundation recipients of the 2013 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy. The award celebrates and promotes those in the sports world who are improving lives by leveraging the unique influence of sports. The class of 2013 winners joins an elite list of past honorees who are unwavering in their commitment to give back to their communities.   

RWJF established the award in 2005 in memory of Steve Patterson, the UCLA basketball star, NBA player, and college coach who became known for his belief in and practice of using the power of sports philanthropy to make a difference. Patterson died of cancer in July 2004 at the age of 56.

"It is an honor to present the Patterson Award to these three outstanding sports philanthropic organizations and celebrate the positive impact they make in their communities," said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD. "The core values of these sports philanthropies align with the core values we espouse—dedication to community and improving the health of everyone in America. It is genuinely inspiring to see their commitment to advancing health and wellness, and we are proud to recognize their impact."

The San Francisco 49ers community initiatives demonstrate the team's commitment to creating strong families, schools, and communities through hands-on community service and numerous in-kind donations. The 49ers have continually displayed their commitment to creating measurable results through transformational grants and impact programs, donating nearly $20 million over the past 20 years. Their partnership with the 49ers Academy, a school for low income middle school youth, which provides not only funding but visits from players and ownership, in which they build facilities, play sports, donate supplies and educate about exercise and the importance of education is a true example of the transformative and lasting impact of their work.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Steve Patterson Award embody what we strive for at the 49ers Foundation, and that’s to improve our community by using sports as a platform to connect with other things that make the Bay Area a better place,” said John York, chairman of the 49ers Foundation and co-chairman of the 49ers. “To be recognized for the difference we make in the community, through the interactions and connections of our players, coaches, family and fans, is truly an honor.”

The Tony Hawk Foundation is the ONLY national organization focused solely on empowering at-risk youth and improving disadvantaged communities through the development of public skateboard parks. The foundation’s work has been a driving force in overcoming negative stereotypes associated with the sport in which youth skateboarders are at times banned, fined and criminalized for practicing the sport they love. Since 2002, THF has implemented youth development and leadership training, resulting in the creation of 537 public skateparks in all 50 states. These skateparks collectively service more than 4.6 million youth annually and represent $91 million in leveraged parks-and-recreation community improvements across the United States.

"For us to receive the Steve Patterson Award is a huge validation of our years of work," said Hawk. "It really puts us on the radar of bigger philanthropy, and we are hugely proud of it. It definitely gives my staff the recognition they deserve."

In sports philanthropy, the LA84 Foundation is unique. The foundation is the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. There is no other organization like it that has been created from the Olympic Games, the largest multi-sport event in the world, held every four years. Through their grantmaking and programming, they have reached approximately three million youngsters, fostering the growth of youth sports by providing grants to more than 1,100 individual organizations. In addition, the foundation’s coaching education programs have improved the skills of more than 70,000 youth sports coaches, and have gone on to become models for similar programs nationwide.

“As we near our thirtieth year of providing grants to youth sports organizations across Southern California, it’s truly an honor to be selected as a winner for the Steve Patterson Award,” said LA84 Foundation President Anita L. DeFrantz. “The programs that we support play a vital role in keeping our youth active and healthy, which is key to building strong and safe communities.”

“The winners that were announced today prove that there is still so much good in sports,” said Carlette Patterson, Steve's widow and president of Patterson Sports Ventures. "Steve's passion for improving the health and wellness of his communities knew no borders. And the three winners today embody his same tireless dedication and hard work to make a difference in the quality of life of their respective communities locally and nationally."   

Previous winners of the Patterson Award have included:


About the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy

The Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy is presented annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The award acknowledges sports organizations and individual sports philanthropies that have demonstrated excellence, leadership, and a sustained commitment toward a mission that serves and improves the lives of others.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937