Marking 50 years of Title IX in Chicago
Marking 50 years of Title IX in Chicago
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and to support their Fifty/50 initiative, ESPN has inaugurated a refurbished softball field in Chicago.
The site will be home to development programs that will teach girls life skills through sport.
Sports teams, community leaders, residents and young people gathered in Rosenblum Park in Chicago’s Southside on Wednesday for the inauguration of a newly refurbished softball field dedicated to the local community and its residents.
The field refurbishment aligns with ESPN’s celebration of 50 years since the passage of the landmark Title IX civil rights legislation. The law prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or educational program receiving federal financial assistance. The site in Chicago will expressly offer safe facilities for girls from underrepresented communities to learn and play through sport.
Throughout June, ESPN has been commemorating the milestone moment in the fight for gender equality with its “Fifty/50” initiative. The series highlights the civil rights journey of women across the sports and cultural landscapes with content and programming features airing across The Walt Disney Company’s platforms.
Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship said, “ESPN’s Fifty/50 initiative tells stories of women’s empowerment since the passing of Title IX. We are delighted to play a part in writing the next chapter of Title IX by working alongside organizations such as Lost Boyz Inc., RISE and love.fútbol, as we empower a new generation of girls by unlocking the benefits that sport can offer through refurbishing this field in Chicago’s Southside.”
The refurbished softball field will provide access to sport within a neighborhood where 40% of families with children live below the poverty level. It builds on the achievements of Title IX by supporting Lost Boyz Inc., a non-profit organization that focuses on decreasing violence, improving social and emotional conditions and providing financial opportunities to youth from Chicago's most vulnerable communities. The organization will use the refurbished field to deliver its Lost Girls MVP Youth Softball Program for girls from underrepresented communities in Chicago. By combining participation in softball with tutoring and civic engagement, the girls can experience positive social relationships and outcomes across many areas of their lives that enhance their individual interests, skills, and abilities.
Project manager, love.fútbol, a global non-profit which engages communities to create their own sports space projects, led the transformation of the space. Drew Chafetz, Co-Founder and CEO, added, "We’ve built safe sports spaces around the world with ESPN, and are honored by the opportunity to bring this work to the US, to mark and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX with our first softball pitch project in the City of Chicago. At love.fútbol, we utilize sport as a platform to advance gender equality and promote access to play for girls and boys in safe and inclusive environments while impacting the community."
RISE, a national nonprofit which educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations, will partner with the Lost Boyz to deliver its multi-week leadership program for girls and coaches at the Southside space. RISE programs build skills and create safe spaces to have difficult conversations, and equip participants with the tools to be culturally competent and leaders in addressing racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion.
Lost Boyz Inc. Founder and Chicago local LaVonte Stewart Sr. said, “Lost Boyz Inc. is elated to be a recipient of this opportunity from ESPN. It is even more significant being part of the celebration of 50 years of Title IX. It’s great to see this commitment to softball and Black girls. This is a true ode to the existence of Title IX legislation.”
Diahann Billings-Burford, CEO at RISE added, “RISE is always excited to partner with organizations that are creating more inclusion and equity. The opening of this new facility will advance the aims of Title IX and help create positive change for girls within the community. We look forward to working with Lost Boyz Inc. and helping them fulfil their mission by delivering programs to empower this same youth to be leaders for advancing racial equity, social justice and inclusivity.”