The Story Behind the Program

On the 40th Anniversary of Title IX on June 2012, the U.S. Department of State and ESPN/espnW joined forces to officially launch the Global Sports Mentoring Program. For the first four years of its existence, the GSMP served as one of three pillars of the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sports initiative, alongside Sports Visitors and Sports Envoys.

From 2012 through 2015, the one-month mentorship program focused on women’s empowerment in partnership with espnW and the University of Tennessee, paired emerging female leaders from around the globe with female senior executives at leading U.S. organizations in the sports sector. Mentors from partner organizations recruited by espnW included senior executives in the business, education, media, non-profit and sports sectors that are committed to supporting young female leaders. Since 2012, 66 female sports leaders have graduated from the program and returned home to launch NGOs, affect public policy and legislation, and transform communities by providing access and opportunity to girls where none previously existed. The GSMP has been so successful that it was named one of top public diplomacy efforts in the world in 2013.

In response to the GSMP’s success, the Department of State restructured their existing programs to include a second one-month mentorship experience to empower a different sector of the population. In 2014, the Department of State teamed with Partners of the Americas to launch the inaugural Sport 4 Community, a co-ed mentorship designed to compliment the U.S. Department of State and espnW GSMP model. Through this mentorship, men and women are chosen based on thematic priorities, with the 2014 class focused on the Olympic legacy and the 2016 class engaged in disability sports.

Now, the GSMP exists as two mentorship programs— U.S. Department of State and espnW GSMP and GSMP: Sport 4 Community. The participants for each program are selected by the U.S. Embassies overseas based on their prior accomplishments and drive to make a significant impact in the sports sector of their countries. These individuals demonstrate an ability to achieve exceptional success in their profession as well as share lessons with others in their home countries so that they may benefit from sports.

Mentors and host organizations provide the participants with opportunities to cultivate management, business, networking, and leadership skills in an American sports environment. In order for the mentorship to play into a long-lasting positive impact worldwide, each emerging leader crafts a strategic plan with her mentor to put into action upon their return home with the common goal of creating sports opportunities for underserved populations. As a result, the program creates a new global network of gamechangers who strive to make positive change in their communities through sports.