UT Partners with US State Department to Empower Women, Girls through Sports


US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets Sarah Hillyer (center) and Ashleigh Huffman (right) of the UT Center for Sport, Peace, and Society on Thursday, June 21. (Photo credit: US Department of State)

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is partnering with the US Department of State to engage women and girls from around the world through sports.

UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society has been awarded a $1.2 million cooperative agreement to implement the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative. The center is part of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

The initiative, a key diplomatic effort by the State Department, aims to engage young girls and women on how success in athletics can develop important life skills and improve academic achievement. It also is designed to increase cross-cultural understanding between international participants and Americans.

“We’re honored to be selected and to be part of this important US public diplomacy effort,” center director Sarah Hillyer said.

Hillyer and center co-director Ashleigh Huffman were in Washington, DC, last week when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the US Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, the flagship component of the initiative.

UT is crafting the program’s curriculum and will coordinate the logistics, including travel and lodging.

Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, noted that “the University of Tennessee’s legacy of empowering women and girls through sports is a rich one.”

“We look forward to partnering together to blaze new paths where girls world wide can pursue their potential,” she said.

About 135 girls and women from developing countries will participate in the program.

The initiative has three components: the US Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, which pairs up to twenty international emerging leaders with leading American women in the sports world; Sports Visitors, which brings women and girls from overseas to the United States for an exchange that teams them up with their American counterparts; and Sports Envoys, which will send professional US athletes, coaches, and sports administrators overseas to engage underserved youth in clinics and leadership discussions.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

To learn more about the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, visit sportandpeace.utk.edu.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)

Talley Sergent (202-632-6043, SergentRT@state.gov)


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