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2019 Program Grants Theme: Reaching Her Potential

Girls are less likely to participate in sports than boys, and as a result, are less likely to reap the many benefits that come with playing soccer. To address this disparity, the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s 2019 Program Grants theme, Reaching Her Potential, seeks to address the lack of representation of young women in soccer, along with the barriers and behaviors that have excluded girls in the past. Opportunities for girls in soccer have been limited by a significant lack of female coaches, the current pay-to-play model, and the male-dominated culture impeding encouragement of girls participation.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. One contributing factor to this attrition is the lack of program design specifically for young women in the game, which leads to gaps in mentorship opportunities and peer support. However, a recent study by EY and espnW highlighted the impact sport can have on a woman’s professional development.  Ninety-four percent of women in the C-suite played a sport, while 74% of executive women say a background in sport can help accelerate a woman’s career.

The Foundation recently worked with researchers at The George Washington University to evaluate Soccer for Success girls-only sites to learn more about how to keep girls in the game. The evaluation found that positive coaching from staff, player effort, and positive dynamics among teammates were reported as frequently occurring throughout their Soccer for Success sessions in which the majority of participants reported the program was ‘the most fun’ or ‘a lot of fun.’ The results from this evaluation were consistent with the research team’s previous findings that these determinants are among the most important for soccer players.

Through this grant opportunity, supported by Johnson & Johnson, emphasis will be placed on the potential benefits of soccer programming for young women, such as increased confidence, leadership skills, and self-esteem. Competitive proposals will include a dynamic program focused on addressing attrition rates and overall participation of girls in soccer, in addition to creating an inclusive environment helping young women become leaders.

Johnson & Johnson, the Foundation’s grant partner, is dedicated to supporting the next generation of female leaders by providing greater access to girls’ youth soccer programming in underserved communities nationwide. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson strives to create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. For more information, please visit

Proposals that do not address the expansion of opportunities for girls in historically excluded communities will not be considered. The Request for Proposals is now available through April 2, 2019. Please follow this link for details on the application process. For more information, please contact Jessie Nance at