9 Best Charities That Promote Youth Sports (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Promote Youth Sports (Complete 2024 List)

By
Alycia O'Dell

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Youth participation in sports has been shown to improve physical and mental health. For example, it has been linked to improved academic performance, decreased anxiety and depression, and increased confidence. Yet for some kids, like those with disabilities or those from low-income families, sports are inaccessible. Fortunately, organizations around the world are dedicated to ensuring all children are given the same opportunities in sport. So, we had to ask: What are the best charities that promote youth sports?

The best charities that promote youth sports are PeacePlayers International and Good Sports. Charities such as Girls, Inc. and the Special Olympics work to ensure that all children have a chance to reap the benefits of sports participation.

Whether you want to help ensure equitable access to athletic programs for inner-city children, teach a child how to incorporate physical activity into their daily life, or fund unification through sports for children around the world, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that promote youth sports are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to donate. 

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Promote Youth Sports Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact, and transparency ratings, and achievements.

They operate primarily throughout the US and Canada, but some promote youth sports internationally.

Many of these charities fight to make sure children don’t miss out on sports due to financial constraints. Others work to eliminate gender or ability-based discrimination so all kids have a chance to play. 

Some promote youth sports as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, while others collaborate with like-minded organizations to unite communities through sports.

Yet, they all share a common goal: to promote youth sports so all children can reap the benefits.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Youth Sports in 2024 

Below are our favorite charities for promoting youth sports (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

PeacePlayers International: Unity through Sports

Logo for PeacePlayers International
PeacePlayers International: Video 1 - Power of Sport

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives PeacePlayers International a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Using Sport to build a global youth movement for peace and equity.

PeacePlayers International

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What they do:

PeacePlayers International promotes youth sports by offering basketball programming, peace education, and leadership development to children in communities affected by conflict and inequity. For example, in Northern Ireland, the charity focuses on uniting historically clashing religious backgrounds through programs like Primary School Twinning, which pairs students of differing faiths to enjoy sports together. Moreover, their PeacePlayers Allstars program in the Middle East consists of fully integrated competitive basketball teams comprised of Jewish and Arab women. And, in 2017, they partnered with Nike to launch programs in the US, using basketball to help BIPOC children learn skills to navigate systemic inequities.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, PeacePlayers International has united thousands of youths around the world through sports. For example, in South Africa alone, they have engaged over 50,000 young people, while their program in Ireland has brought more than 25,000 Catholic and Protestant children together. Furthermore, PeacePlayers International has expanded their efforts beyond uniting individual communities. For example, in 2019, they introduced The Friendship Games, an annual event bringing together participants from around the world for a week of basketball, leadership skills building, and cultural exchange. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to PeacePlayers International via their website. You can also get involved by hosting an event or following their social media

2

Good Sports: Equipping Kids and Driving Equity in Youth Sports

Logo for Good Sports
Restore Play

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Good Sports a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Kids who play better, do better.

Good Sports

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What they do:

Good Sports promotes youth sports by providing sports equipment, apparel, and footwear to children in high-need communities. They work with youth organizations to ensure that children are not excluded from participating in physical activity programs due to cost. And, they further their commitment to equitable access to youth sports through partnerships and initiatives that target athletes from minority populations. For example, in 2021 they launched a strategic partnership with the NFL Foundation and USA Football to increase access to football opportunities for children in need, specifically black, brown, and female athletes. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Good Sports has distributed almost $100 million in brand new sporting equipment to programs in need, helping 9.3 million children across the US access youth sports. For example, in 2021, they were recognized by the Public Interest Registry for their Restore Play initiative, which distributed 27,700 individual play packs to encourage physical activity for socially-distanced children. In the same year, they launched their She Who Plays campaign to support new and equitable access to sports for girls nationwide, pledging $5 million to directly impact young female athletes.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Good Sports via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering or attending an event. In addition, you can specifically choose the type of sports you want to support through their Equip-A-Kid program.

3

Girls Inc: Fostering the Mental and Physical Health of Tomorrow’s Women

Logo for Girls Inc. 
This Is Why | Girls, Inc.

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Girls Inc. a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

“Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.”

Girls Inc. 

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What they do:

Girls Inc. provides services that help girls ages overcome barriers to meaningful participation in sports programs. For example, they encourage policies that promote gender equity in youth sports, like Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational settings. And, they provide safe environments for young girls to explore their athleticism with trained mentors, peers, and counselors. Furthermore, they utilize evidence-based programming to address girls’ mental health. For example, their Mind + Body Initiative helps girls develop healthy habits in areas essential to whole health, including physical activity and stress management.

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, Girls Inc. operates at over 1,500 sites in 350 cities across the US and Canada, through which they serve more than 130,000 girls each year. Studies have proven that Girls Inc. girls have a significant advantage over their peers in several areas, including an increased likelihood to play on sports teams and exercise daily, and to see themselves as leaders.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Girls Inc. via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in their events, shopping with partnered vendors, or donating a vehicle.

4

Special Olympics: Empowerment Through Athleticism

Logo for Special Olympics
Changing the World Through Sport

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Special Olympics a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity the Silver Seal of Transparency. 

“Changing the world through sport.”

Special Olympics

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What they do:

The Special Olympics promotes youth sports for children with disabilities by offering a variety of sports-related programs. For example, their Young Athletes program provides structured play opportunities that introduce young children with and without disabilities to basic athletic concepts, like running and kicking. Furthermore, their Healthy Athletes initiative offers free health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes in a fun and welcoming environment. And, athletes with disabilities of all ages can participate in their competitive sports events, which helps them build skills like confidence, sportsmanship, and teamwork.

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What they’ve achieved:

Globally, the Special Olympics hosts more than 115,000 competitions annually, reaching more than 6.7 million athletes, including children with disabilities. Furthermore, through their Healthy Athletes initiative, the charity has performed more than 2 million screenings, addressing the physical needs of athletes that might otherwise go untreated. The initiative has also trained 300,000 health professionals and students to treat children and adults with disabilities.

Ways to contribute:

You can make monetary donations to The Special Olympics via their website. You can also get directly involved by volunteering as a coach, event staff, official, or unified partner in your local community.

5

Every Kid Sports: Removing Financial Barriers to Youth Sports

Logo for Every Kid Sports
EKS Overview 2023 Facebook

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Every Kid Sports a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency.

“We pay. Kids play.”

Every Kid Sports 

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What they do:

Every Kid Sports provides grants to children from low-income families so they can participate in sports programs they could not afford otherwise. For example, their Every Kid Sports Pass provides families with quarterly stipends to help pay registration fees. They also encourage “sports sampling” so children can participate in a variety of sports. Furthermore, they partner with other organizations to assist children interested in specific sports. For example, in 2020, they partnered with T-Mobile and Little League to increase access to baseball and softball, and in 2021 they partnered with NFL FLAG to help income-restricted kids play flag football.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Every Kid Sports has provided thousands of children across the US with the opportunity to participate in sports programs. For example, in 2021 alone, they helped 12,332 kids access Little League baseball and softball, while giving 21,074 kids a chance to “sports sample” with their Every Kid Sports Pass. And, they declared the month of June to be Youth Sports Equity Month to bring awareness to the inequity of youth sports participation and the impact sports participation has on developing children.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Every Kid Sports via their website. You can also support the charity by hosting a fundraiser or through legacy giving.

6

Girls On The Run: Building Physical and Emotional Strength 

Logo for Girls on the Run International
Restore Play

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Girls On The Run a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

About so much more than running.

Girls On The Run

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What they do:

Girls On The Run promotes youth sports by incorporating exercise and a research-based curriculum to build life skills in girls across the US. For example, their flagship Girls On The Run program focuses on building social, emotional, and physical skills in participants while also encouraging healthy lifestyle habits. In addition, their Heart & Sole program motivates participants to develop skills like critical and independent thinking, teamwork, and confidence. And, they provide free resources for parents to help strengthen girls’ emotional and physical health.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Girls On The Run has helped over 2 million girls build critical life skills while building physical and emotional strength. Today, they are a national movement comprising over 160 council locations. For example, in 2022, they hosted Dream it. Be It. Do It., a virtual event featuring keynote speaker and Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles. The event, which focused on the importance of following your dreams, reached over 10,000 participants

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Girls on the Run via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering as a coach or attending 5K in your local community

7

Action for Healthy Kids: Keeping Kids Active

Logo for Action for Healthy Kids
Take Action for Healthy Kids

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Action for Healthy Kids a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Gold Seal of Transparency. 

“All kids deserve to be healthy – in body and mind.”

Action for Healthy Kids

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What they do:

Action for Healthy Kids brings schools and families together and equips them with the tools and resources they need to promote children’s health and well-being, including access to youth sports. For example, through their family-school partnership model, they bring together school staff and district leaders to identify the specific needs of the community and to develop effective solutions. They specifically focus on three key program areas: food access and nutrition education (NourishED), physical activity and active play (EnergizED), and social-emotional health and risk behavior prevention (ConnectED). They also award grants to schools to help them accomplish student wellness goals.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Action for Healthy Kids has positively impacted the health and well-being of over 20 million children across more than 55,000 schools, with the help of their 140,000 volunteers. For example, in 2013, they published The Learning Connection, which highlighted the relationship between physical activity opportunities and academic performance. Furthermore, since 2009, they have awarded $9.3 million in grants to schools and districts across the US. And, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they awarded additional grants to fund emergency meals to 44 school districts, serving more than 20 million meals to children during the 2020-2021 school year.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Action for Healthy Kids via their website. You can also get involved by participating in a learning event or fundraising.

8

Fresh Air Fund: Bringing the Outdoors to City Kids

Logo for Fresh Air Fund
Learn more about The Fresh Air Fund

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Fresh Air Fund a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Silver Seal of Transparency. 

Because a summer can last a lifetime.”

Fresh Air Fund

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What they do:

The Fresh Air Fund promotes the social, emotional, and physical well-being of inner-city children by providing them with free summer experiences, including participation in youth sports. For example, their sleepaway camps offer a fully immersive summer camp experience in a country setting. Moreover, their Fresh Air Summer Spaces program hosts supervised activities such as obstacle courses and arts and crafts at outdoor locations within New York City. In addition, their Fresh Air Family Wellness program allows families to bond on overnight trips outdoors.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Fresh Air Fund has improved the health and well-being of more than 1.8 million children through outdoor activities and sports. For example, in 2021 alone, 90% of participants reported that the Fresh Air Fund helped them feel more active and healthy, and 85% felt more confident. In the same year, 99% of Fresh Air Family Wellness participants reported feeling more connected as a family after their experience. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Fresh Air Fund via their website. You can also volunteer your time, or attend a fundraising event.

9

Gasol Foundation: Making Weight Management Fun

Logo for Gasol Foundation
GASOL FOUNDATION

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Their transparency & ratings:

GuideStar gives the Gasol Foundation a Silver Seal of Transparency. 

Make it healthy. Make it fun.

Gasol Foundation

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What they do:

The Gasol Foundation fights the obesity crisis by helping children learn healthy habits in meaningful and engaging ways, including through youth sports. For example, their Galactic Sports program promotes sports and healthy habits to help children gain confidence. Furthermore, through their Healthy Galaxy Model, they educate children on healthy eating habits through fun and interactive cartoons. And, their CommUNITY Wellness program emphasizes the importance of community involvement in raising healthy children.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Gasol Foundation has encouraged thousands of children to adopt healthy habits to combat obesity. For example, in 2021, they enrolled 88,871 children and adults in their healthy habits programs and activities across the US. Moreover, they reached over 33 million people globally through their awareness and advocacy campaigns. In addition, 17,519 people participated in their research programs. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Gasol Foundation via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering or attending an event

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for youth sports. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to youth sports – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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