The Underrepresented in High School Sports

The Multnomah Athletic Foundation’s Community Grant Program focuses on funding to increase access to sports. We believe that every student should have the opportunity to participate and play. The data reflecting national high school sports in this infographic comes from the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. Full report can be found here.

This article highlights some of our amazing nonprofit grant partners who are making a difference in underrepresented communities in the Portland Metro Area.

Girls make up 44% of high school athletes vs 56% who are boys.

Girls on the Run focuses on the whole girl. Trained volunteer coaches deliver lessons that help girls to find their voices, make friends, have fun, and develop vital social emotional skills. Girls practice approaching physical activity with a growth mindset, setting their own goals and supporting each other in a noncompetitive environment. They culminate by completing a Girls on the Run 5K, which serves as a tangible example of accomplishment through perseverance. This year, Girls on the Run of Greater Oregon expects to reach 1,400 girls. With community support we are able to provide financial aid for any family that is unable to pay the full registration fee, providing $75,000+ in scholarships.

Fall season begins on September 11th for Girls on the Run teams serving 3rd – 5th graders and Heart and Sole serving 6th – 8th graders. Registration opens on August 16th and we are currently recruiting volunteer coaches. To learn more and to get involved, please visit

Native American adolescents are 30% more likely than white adolescents to be obese.

NAYA supports quality culturally specific early childhood programming, dedicated to making a significant impact on Native American youth in Portland. With a mission to address health and education disparities, NAYA’s after-school program plays a vital role in supporting Native American adolescents, who face a 35% obesity rate, 14% diabetes rate, and a suicide rate 202% above the national average. Their programming provides safe and supportive environments, fostering physical activity, social development, and community engagement. Currently offered is a twice a week open gym space for youth to play basketball, make friends, and have fun. Athletic activities like these create opportunities for youth to learn about mentorship opportunities and other resources available. Through strategic partnerships with the NAYA Early College Academy, the University of Oregon, and Oregon State University, NAYA is continually expanding its reach and effectiveness.

By evaluating program outcomes and tracking college enrollment, NAYA is dedicated to empowering Native American youth, helping them thrive academically, physically, and emotionally. To learn more about NAYA’s efforts and contribute to their impactful work, check out their website at

Fewer male students of color meet physical fitness guidelines than white students – and all female students fare even worse.

Friends of Baseball (FOB) is making a profound impact on our community by providing unique support to underrepresented youth in the Portland Metro region. They strive to create equitable access to sports-related programs, youth development, and mentorship for underserved communities. Since 2015, over 2,000 youth have participated, with 75% coming from low-income families and 80% being youth of color. To achieve this, they forge partnerships with organizations and hire individuals who can offer culturally specific education and trauma-informed training. Friends of Baseball is committed to uplifting underrepresented high school-aged youth in our community through two groundbreaking initiatives: It’s Girls LEAD Softball program and the Full Count RBI Baseball Academy. Girls LEAD strives to empower young identifying females from marginalized neighborhoods through the power of sport, providing them with access to quality softball coaching and developing leadership skills on and off the field.

Simultaneously, the Full Count RBI Baseball Academy actively addresses the need for inclusivity and opportunity among male students of color, providing exposure to coaching and mentorship from caring and nurturing adults. Full Count strives to create a sense of belonging and opens doors for marginalized boys in baseball and through these initiatives exemplify Friends of Baseball’s unwavering dedication to providing support, leveling the playing field and fostering a more inclusive and equitable community for all. To join the energy at Friends of Baseball, visit their website here

An estimated 6%-25% of students with disabilities participate in high school sports.

With an estimated 6%-25% of students with disabilities participating in high school sports, Adaptive Sports Northwest (ASNW) is committed to providing supportive resources and competitive sports opportunities for individuals including youth with disabilities. These resources can include proper sports equipment needed in order for a student to compete with their school, and/or other local adaptive sports related teams. By contributing with these resources, ASNW acts as a catalyst that educates, connects and inspires people with ways to get involved with their community and beyond through the spirit of sport and inclusion.

To find out more about how Adaptive Sports NW is making an impact or how you can help Adaptive Sports NW impact the lives of youth please visit their website:

Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth play sports (school, community, league, or club) – lower than the broader youth.

The Rose City Rollers believe all youth, especially those left out or excluded from many other sports leagues, should have the opportunity to compete, build character, and grow their confidence. This sport has led the way in celebrating body diversity, LGBTQIA+ skaters, and creating safe spaces for skaters to be their most authentic selves.

To further support youth athletes on their roller derby journey, they’re currently re-building a world-class coach training program. This program will include interactive modules on supporting LGBTQIA+ athletes, anti-bias training, conflict de-escalation, curriculum creation, building an engaging practice, concussion awareness, and more. With nearly half of their teen athletes identifying as LGBTQIA+ and many LGBTQIA+ coaches staffed, these youth are able to see themselves represented, creating a wonderfully supportive environment.

To learn more about the work they’ve done so far, go to

Girls at heavily minority schools have 39% of the sports opportunities as girls as heavily white schools.

“As a coach, my only genius is turning potential into actual. Seeing not what is, but what can be.” – Eric Knox

HOLLA serves high school girls through a unique partnership with Benson Polytechnic High School where Eric Knox, HOLLA’s Executive Director, is head coach. Eric describes himself as a mentor first and a coach second. This mentality is found throughout Benson’s basketball program through Eric’s heart and vision for mentorship. For girls on Benson’s basketball team, the mentorship they receive through Eric’s coaching philosophy and their involvement in HOLLA’s mentoring program, allows them to turn their potential into reality.

Many of the girls in Benson’s basketball program are also matched with 1:1 mentors through HOLLA; in addition to social/emotional and academic support, youth in HOLLA’s mentoring program also participate in enrichment events that seek to offer opportunities for new experiences such as aviation, the arts, and other sports.

Outside of the usual basketball season, HOLLA provides expanded opportunities for the girls on Benson’s basketball team through financial support to participate in nationwide showcases and tournaments. Last summer, HOLLA took the team to Washington DC to play in the Title IX Classic Basketball Tournament, tour HBCU Howard University as well as spend time touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Check out HOLLA and their programatic offerings here