ESPN to honor Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality with Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award

June 14, 2017

The nonprofit founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross in 2015 will receive the award at ESPN’s third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards on July 11 in Los Angeles.

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.

“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.”

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.

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.