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A Letter to CSPS Mentors, Supporters, and Friends

Dear Friend of the Center,

As a mentor, partner, friend, or advocate of the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society (CSPS), thank you for your continued support as we work to empower underserved populations through sport worldwide. Without you and your passion, commitment, and time, we would not have propelled one of our key initiatives—the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP)—to prominence on the global stage.

In 2013, the GSMP was named one of the 10 best diplomatic achievements in the world by the Public Diplomacy Council. In 2016, it was highlighted as the key initiative to address UN Global Goal #5: Gender Equality by the U.S. Department of State. And, in 2018, the GSMP was featured at the SXSW conference for the success of its public-private partnerships.

Now, we have more good news: ESPN has named the GSMP as a recipient of the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award at the Third Annual ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards (read our press release about the award here). The awards ceremony will take place July 17 in Los Angeles, one day prior to the ESPY Awards and the Laureus Summit. You can watch ESPN on July 24 at 7 p.m. ET for highlights of the ceremony. 

With the support and partnership of more than 110 executives and mentors from U.S.-based host organizations, the CSPS has trained 147 sports leaders from 72 countries during GSMP programs and activities. Delegates then return home to launch NGOs, affect public policy and legislation, and transform communities by providing access and opportunities to sport where none previously existed.

Collectively, GSMP alumni have founded 80 organizations or community initiatives; worked directly with 228,627 participants; mobilized 5,632 volunteers; created 510 partnerships with local, government, and international entities; earned 220 public recognitions; reached approximately 1 million people through 53 social media campaigns; and been featured in media more than 900 times.

In addition, after their participation in the GSMP: Empower Women through Sports, Xinyi Hua (China) and Po-Chun Liu (Taiwan) were named to Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in International Sports list in 2018; Pamela Akplogan (Benin) was selected for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship; Aline Silva (Brazil) was named the 2018 Woman in Sport by United World Wrestling (UWW); Maíra Liguori (Brazil) was named as one of BBC’s 100 Women of 2017; and Paola Kuri (Mexico) was named as one of eight young people impacting Mexico in 2017 and was chosen to participate in Dove’s 60th Anniversary “Real Beauty” global campaign.

After participation in GSMP: Sport for Community, Yerlan Suleimenov (Kazakhstan) helped pass legislation that recognized his country’s National Paralympic and Olympic Committees as equivalent entities, which will allow for equal funding and opportunities; Valeria Filiaeva (Belarus) helped wheelchair tennis to be recognized as an official sport in her country; and JP Maunes (Philippines) founded his country’s first adaptive dragon boat racing team, which won gold at the 2017 and 2018 International Para Dragonboat Championships in Hong Kong.

Taking into consideration the impact of the GSMP and your commitment to the ideas of sport for social change, we are asking for your help. We want to maximize the impact of the ESPN award so even more youth, women, and persons with disabilities around the world may find empowerment through sports. You can help us in two ways:

  • Share the good news—Spread the news of the award to your networks (e.g., friends, family, colleagues, and partners) and on your social media channels. When you do, please tag us and let us know why the GSMP is important to you. Our social media platforms are: Facebook; @sportandpeaceUT on Twitter and Instagram. And, here is a link to the press release we sent out after the award was announced that you can share.
  • Give if you can—At the beginning of 2018, the CSPS set a goal of raising $500,000 to impact the lives of up to 5,000 more individuals around the world through our programs. One of the ways we have identified to make this impact is through a new, online educational course and action-based certificate program. Grounded in the same Better World curriculum that delegates are exposed to during GSMP exchanges, this certificate program will enable us to provide much greater access to sport-based innovation for students and professionals in non-profit and corporate sectors. To develop and implement this certificate program, as well as provide tuition assistance options for individuals who cannot afford to pay the cost of the course, we’re asking you to consider partnering with the CSPS by donating $20, $50, $100, $250, $500, or more. You can give directly to the center’s mission at this link.

We believe in what’s possible: a world where gender, mobility, race, religion, and sexuality do not define individuals but instead are celebrated qualities that enhance the beauty of life and our shared humanity. In a society that often feels confined to our differences, we work to create a more peaceful, equitable, and inclusive world.

Thank you for supporting us in the mission to empower underserved populations through sport and for your continued partnership, passion, and time.


Sarah Hillyer, PhD
Center for Sport, Peace, and Society
University of Tennessee

Follow along with the CSPS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for live video, updates and posts from awards week!