2017 Sports Award Finalists Honored By Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The award recognizes innovative approaches to using sport to make communities healthier.

    • May 31, 2017
Two boys playing basketball in gym.

Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced 16 finalists for the 2017 RWJF Sports Award, an honor recognizing professional teams, individuals, and organizations that strengthen and serve communities through sport. The winners will be honored on September 13, 2017, during an awards presentation at the Foundation’s headquarters in Princeton, N.J.

The RWJF Sports Award recognizes innovative and influential approaches to using sports to make communities healthier places to live. Approaches may include: helping children maintain a healthy weight, creating safe play environments, encouraging positive behaviors, eliminating bullying, abuse and violence, and expanding opportunities for children living in poverty. The 2016 winners included the MLSE Foundation, the Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, and InnerCity Weight Lifting.

“Congratulations to our finalists for the 2017 RWJF Sports Award and the outstanding examples they have set in their communities," said Richard Besser, RWJF president and CEO. "Their work demonstrates a dedication to others and a sense of pride that will make their communities healthier and happier places to live.”

Below are the finalists in each category:

A professional sports team community relations department or foundation:

The Giants Community Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, collaborates with the San Francisco Giants by using baseball as a forum to encourage underserved youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives. The Fund supports Junior Giants leagues throughout Northern California, Nevada and Oregon and provides assistance to targeted community initiatives in the areas of education, health and violence prevention. Junior Giants is a free, noncompetitive, co-ed baseball program for 25,000 underserved children that offers youth a chance to learn the basics of baseball during the summer while also discovering the importance of essential life skills.

The mission of the Houston Texans Foundation is to be champions for youth since youth are the champions of our future. Since 2002, more than $27.2 million has been raised for the community through our annual fundraising events, disaster response programs, and annual United Way campaign. Through our fundraising efforts, we support programs in education, character development, and health and fitness to empower our next generation of Texans.

The Kansas City Chiefs, through the Hunt Family Foundation—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1983—are committed to making a positive lasting impact on those in need through philanthropy, outreach programming and volunteerism. Annually, the Chiefs and Hunt Family Foundation support more than 125 charitable agencies in the greater Kansas City community with an emphasis on families and children in crisis, youth health and wellness, as well as hunger relief. The Kansas City Chiefs and Hunt Family Foundation have delivered more than $25 million in charitable funding to the greater Kansas City community through various events and grants.

The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation works to make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of children that need it most in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Since Redskins owners Dan and Tanya Snyder created the Foundation, it has provided more than $20 million to the community for support and services focused on education, health and wellness and preparing children for their future.

An individual athlete or professional coach's foundation:

Kids Play International (KPI) was founded in 2008 by 3-time Olympian Tracy Evans with the mission to use sport and the Olympic values to promote gender equity in post-genocide countries. KPI’s innovative year-round international “Let’s Play Fair” program helps to level the playing field between genders by introducing different sports which allows for girls and boys to renegotiate harmful norms.

The Moyer Foundation (TMF) provides comfort, hope and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction. Physical activity and sports are a crucial element of TMF’s two programs—Camp Erin and Camp Mariposa—offering youth a safe and healthy environment with activities that build trust, self-esteem and life-changing social connections.

Launched in 1991 by Peter Westbrook, the Peter Westbrook Foundation uses the art of fencing as a vehicle for instilling personal discipline, hard work, and perseverance in young people from all backgrounds, but especially those residing in impoverished communities. Each year, the Foundation supports  athletic and academic accomplishments of over 250 New York City youth.

The Steve Nash Foundation (SNF) is dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. Since 2005, SNF has focused on critical needs health and education, developing a select slate of programs and platforms throughout North America and internationally to increase access to resources for the MVPs of the future.

An organization that is an influential leader and model for others.

For 24 years, A World Fit for Kids! (WFIT) has prepared children and young people to lead fit and fulfilling lives. WFIT uses sports and innovative physical activity approaches to make life-changing opportunities available free of charge to over 400,000 low-income students in inner-city Los Angeles.

The Fugees Family is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering child survivors of war to rebuild their lives. Through the power of sport, specifically soccer, the Fugees Family works to integrate and heal those who have had their lives affected by war.

PeacePlayers International (PPI) is a global nonprofit organization that uses basketball as a vehicle to unite divided communities. Since its inception in 2001, PPI has impacted more than 75,000 youth and trained over 2,000 coaches from 15 countries in a groundbreaking peacebuilding and leadership development curriculum.

Since 1996, Playworks has been leveraging the power of play to transform school culture and improve students’ social and emotional health. By December 2020, Playworks aims to ensure 3.5 million kids in 7,000 elementary schools nationwide experience safe and healthy play every day. ​​

Row New York teaches youth from underserved communities the competitive sport of rowing. RNY athletic and academic programs equip participants with the skills to excel on the water and graduate from high school and college. RNYs adaptive programming helps people with disabilities to build confidence and achieve their health goals.

Snider Hockey is a cutting edge program that uses the sport of ice hockey coupled with a rigorous off-ice life skills curriculum and supplemental educational services to build character and academic skills for under-resourced boys and girls from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden, New Jersey. Hockey is used to gain and hold the attention of students, so that they can fully engage in activities that strengthen their physical, academic and emotional development.

Soccer Without Borders serves refugees and immigrants across the United States, building more inclusive and welcoming communities. Its holistic, year-round programs supports newcomers from more than 60 countries of origin to advance academically, develop personally, make healthy choices, build social capital, and develop English language skills.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award honors the innovative and collaborative efforts of individuals, organizations and teams that are making their communities healthier through sport. For more information on the award, visit www.rwjf.org/sportsaward or follow on Twitter @RWJFSportsAward.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

Media Contacts

Jordan Reese

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-6322

Inspiring Healthier Communities Through Sport

The RWJF Sports Award recognizes innovative and collaborative approaches to making communities healthier places to live.

Learn more about the award