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ESPN To Honor Ross Initiative in Sports For Equality With Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award

Posted Jun 14, 2017

The nonprofit founded by owner Stephen M. Ross in 2015 will receive the award at ESPN’s third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards.

NEW YORK – Less than two years into its existence, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) will receive a national honor and $100,000 grant from ESPN for leadership in improving race relations and driving social progress.

ESPN on Wednesday, June 14, announced that RISE would receive a Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award at the third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb on Tuesday, July 11.

The event will honor leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sports to make a positive impact on society.

In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award celebrates individuals and organizations that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.

“We are honored that RISE is a recipient of the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, named after a man synonymous with bringing all walks of life together through the unifying power of sports,” said Stephen M. Ross, RISE founder and board chairman, and owner of the Miami Dolphins. “I want to thank all of the players, sports executives and league officials who have united to make a positive impact around such an important issue.”

Founded in October 2015, RISE is a nonprofit dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Since its inception, RISE has reached more than 30,000 students, coaches and athletic staff. Innovative programs include the RISE High School Leadership Program and College Leadership Program, which empower administrators, coaches and student-athletes to be leaders in discussing and addressing matters of racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusivity within their teams, schools and communities. Other RISE initiatives include panel discussions with professional athletes, law enforcement and elected officials and public awareness campaigns.

In Florida, RISE this month completed its first season working with Hollywood Hills High School in Broward County. Student-athletes from the school’s baseball, girls flag football, girls lacrosse, softball and boys volleyball teams completed the RISE Leadership Program over the course of the spring sports season. In May, RISE presented a workshop, “Using Sports to Build Leadership Skills and Drive Social Progress,” at the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association State Conference in Orlando. In April, special guests representing RISE helped to announce the Miami Dolphins Day 3 NFL draft picks. RISE also has worked closely with the Dolphins on several initiatives, such as a community conversation in September with Dolphins players, community leaders, law enforcement and youth coaches, as well as commUNITY Tailgate events prior to each Dolphins home game to bring community leaders, law enforcement and youth together.

Dolphins safety Michael Thomas congratulated RISE on the award. “They were groundbreaking and got ahead of race relation conversations that needed to be had,” Thomas said. “For RISE to give these athletes a platform to voice their opinion on how they were feeling was awesome. The nation really got behind it and this is something that will continue to grow.”

Ross has engaged and personally recruited influential leaders to be part of RISE’s board of directors, including all of the major sports league commissioners and sports broadcast executives.

Headquartered in New York, RISE this year opened its first regional office, a Detroit location serving the Midwest. Future offices will include one in Miami, serving southern states, and one in San Francisco, serving western states. RISE has been active in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C. RISE also has worked with the Pac-12 Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and has implemented programs with universities such as Michigan State University, University of Houston, University of Michigan and University of Missouri.

“To receive an award like this so early in our organization’s existence underscores both the importance of the work we are doing and the critical moment for all of us to come together to promote equality,” said Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO. “I’m grateful to be leading such an organization at this important time. And I’m optimistic that the work going on in our industry can bring about positive social progress.”

In addition to RISE, World Wrestling Entertainment Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and Orlando City Soccer Club of Major League Soccer also will be recognized with the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award.

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