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Letter from the Directors

Although stories of division, hate, intolerance, and natural disaster have dominated headlines for most of recent memory, another reality is present: Sport has the power to rebuild communities and strengthen the bonds that connect us to others.

Through the often untold stories of change—like that of legendary coach Pat Summitt who helped rebuild women’s basketball in war-torn Iraq or JP Maunes’ Filipino dragon boat team comprised of persons with physical disabilities who won gold against their non-disabled counterparts—sport is perhaps the most powerful tool to promote equality and inclusion around the world. Empowering global leaders in sports to make a positive social impact in their communities is the heartbeat of our work.

At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” At the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, we’re committed to expanding this message and using sport to bring people together.

To do this, we engage in scholarly research, deliver community-based curriculum, and expand the footprint of solidarity through mentorship and international exchanges. Since our founding in 2012, we’ve worked with nearly 6,000 women and girls, persons with disabilities, youth, refugees, university students, and student-athletes.

We believe in what’s possible: a world where gender, mobility, race, religion, and sexuality don’t 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 diligently to create a more peaceful, equitable, and inclusive world.

In 2017, we hosted two installments of the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program—one focused on empowering persons with disabilities and another on empowering women—led a student-athlete leadership academy on service-learning experience to Vietnam, and premiered the documentary film, “Pat: A Legacy of Love,” in Knoxville, Tennessee.

For the past five years, we’ve developed partnerships with executives at top, U.S.-based organizations; inspired social entrepreneurs and advocates to implement their vision for change; delivered culturally-grounded curriculum and keynote speeches worldwide; created our own unique model of empowerment for social change and innovation; and contributed to the movement to create a better, more inclusive world for all. We want to celebrate these accomplishments, which is why we produced a report that provides a comprehensive look at our work, its impact, and our vision for the future (click here to read the CSPS 2016-17 Annual Report). With our foundation in sport for development, peace, and empowerment, we fulfill a unique niche in the world of non-profit programming and scholarly research and welcome you to join us as we work to change the world.

Sarah Hillyer, PhD
Ashleigh Huffman, PhD
Co-Directors, Center for Sport, Peace, & Society

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