Laureus USA in partnership with Gatorade & NBC Sports Launches Elevating Black Leaders in Sport Initiative

New York, NY – February 24, 2022 – Gatorade and NBC Sports have provided funding to launch Laureus Sport for Good USA’s Elevating Black Leaders in Sport Initiative. Born out of the pandemic, this fund is designed to support, grassroot, Black-led non-profit sport organizations who provide programming for youth from under resourced communities. Elevating Black Leaders in Sport provides general operating funding alongside a responsive, needs-based capacity building program and ultimately increases access to sports-based youth development programming for Black youth from divested communities. 

Laureus USA identified eight nonprofit organizations (listed below) in four cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York City – that support Black youth and are run by Black individuals to receive initial funding. They hope to grow and continue this initiative and recruit more sponsors to expand its impact and reach. Success of the initiative will be measured both by youth outcomes (increased access to sport for Black youth and increasing their sense of belonging) and Black Leader outcomes (increased capacity/leadership skills and increased resources for their organization).  

“Elevating Black Leaders in Sport was born out of our recognition that philanthropic funding often fails to reach Black-led, community-based organizations. In order to better reach and engage Black youth, we feel that it is crucial to provide unrestricted funding and holistic support to these community leaders,” said Rachelle Patel, Director of Marketing and Partnerships, Laureus USA. “We are so grateful to Gatorade and NBCU for understanding our vision and providing the funding to support this innovate, life-changing work.”  

“We know we have a responsibility to make sports more equitable for the next generation of athletes, which is why we partner with leading social-impact organizations like Laureus USA,” said Brandi Ray, Head of Consumer Engagement at Gatorade. “The Elevating Black Leaders in Sport Fund embodies our Fuel Tomorrow commitment by directly ensuring more kids have access to sports.” 

Gatorade’s sponsorship of the Elevating Black Leaders in Sport Fund comes on the heels of the brand’s Fuel Tomorrow commitment – a multi-year initiative to help everyone have equal opportunity to play sports. As part of the commitment, the brand is collaborating with leading social impact organizations to co-develop programs that advance equity in sports. 

“We are proud to join forces with Gatorade and the Laureus USA to provide funding and resources to create a level playing field for these deserving organizations,” said Damon Phillips, SVP, Strategic Initiatives and Head of Diversity & Inclusion, NBC Sports. “There are so many benefits to playing sports, as you learn so many lessons on and off the field. Supporting youth sports in our communities is a priority for NBC Sports as we enable and develop our future athletes and leaders.” 

In addition to its financial commitment, NBC Sports will leverage its platforms to highlight the youth sports organizations chosen for this project. NBC Sports’ parent organization NBCUniversal will also offer skills-based training in communications, human resources, and marketing to help organizations scale their efforts.   

This initiative is part of NBCUniversal’s ongoing efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Funding for the grant was made possible through Comcast NBCUniversal’s $100 million commitment to help address systemic racism and inequality. 


Chosen Organizations  


Heritage Youth Sports Foundation   

Location: Minneapolis (Minneapolis North)  

Mission: The Heritage Youth Sports Foundation encourages youth development by providing opportunities for personal and athletic growth.  The Heritage Foundation promotes sportsmanship, self-esteem, and the development of life skills through engaging youth in sports while providing a safe, healthy, positive environment where the youth of our community can learn the fundamentals of sports.  


H.O.O.D Organization 

Location: Bronx, NY   

MIssion: Humanity Optimism Opportunity & Diversity is a youth lead organization that is designed to guide and inspire individuals to shoot for their dreams. HO sets out to prevent the youth from succumbing to negative influences within our community through the NYC Neighborhood Hero Initiative.   


Hoopz U    

Location: Atlanta, Georgia   

Mission: The Atlanta Small Business Training Consortium, Inc. (ASBTCI), DBA Hoopz U (HZU), is a program to create strategies for the holistic development of black males on the westside of Atlanta including a grassroots mentorship, which provides guidance to develop the skills necessary for success in the sport of basketball and the game of life.   


L.E.A.D. Center For Youth 

Location: Atlanta, GA    

Mission:   L.E.A.D.’s mission is to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their City of Atlanta by using the sport of baseball to teach Black boys how to overcome crime, poverty and racism.   


Lost Boyz Inc 

Location: Chicago, Illinois   

Mission: Lost Boyz Inc decreases violence and improves the social conditions for young people in Chicago through the sports of baseball and softball.   


PeacePlayers (Brooklyn)   

Location: Brooklyn, NY   

Mission: To unite divided communities through sport  


Project SWish  

Location:  Chicago, Illinois   

Mission: Project SWish uses basketball as a vehicle to push anti-violence and mental health in urban areas throughout Chicagoland. SWish sets up shop in the highest crime areas of Chicago during the most dangerous times to get young men and women off of the streets and into a safe environment.   


Sanneh Foundation 

Location: Twin Cities  

Mission: The Sanneh Foundation serves the holistic youth development needs of the increasingly diverse Twin Cities metro area. Our mission is to empower youth by supporting and promoting educational attainment through in-school and after-school support, improve lives by providing programs that strengthen physical health and social and emotional development, and unite communities by advancing diversity, equity, and community well-being.  

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