Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Collaboration between DICK'S Sporting Goods and Brooks Running support girls and youth running programs


Walter Williams, a high school track coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma, printed out the quote for new team equipment and placed it on his desk. He placed it near his mouse so that he would see it every day. He stared at that quote for two years, drumming his fingertips on the paper as he racked his brain for ways to raise the necessary funds. "It will happen one day," he kept telling himself.

More young athletes were facing an uphill battle nearly 1,000 miles away in southeast Michigan. Numerous girls track teams and running groups had the drive and determination to succeed but lacked access to facilities, an all-too-common story of inequality in female athletics.

Both of these programs, as well as many others, benefited from a collaboration between DICK'S Sporting Goods and Brooks Running, which has donated $1 for every pair of socks, $5 for apparel, and $10 for every pair of shoes sold in the Empower Her Collection to The DICK's Sporting Goods Foundation for the past three years.

“Through our Future Run Platform, we work to create as many opportunities as possible for young people to discover the lifelong benefits of the run and its powerful community,” said Melanie Allen, Brooks Chief Marketing Officer. “DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK's Sporting Goods Foundation share this goal, and we love working with them on the Empower Her collection to support girls and youth running programs.”

Aimee Watters, VP of Sports Matter and Community Marketing for DICK’S Sporting Goods, said, “I’m so proud of this relationship because when we team up with a great partner like Brooks Running, even more kids get the support they need to compete in the sports they love.”

The funds, according to Coach Williams, will go a long way toward helping the Nathan Hale High School program continue its illustrious history. To compete in meets, track teams in Oklahoma must pay registration fees, and annual fundraisers typically only cover those costs. The team has been treading water in order to compete and has been unable to advance. The athletes will receive new uniforms, warm-ups, training equipment, and a history lesson as a result of the $20,000 Sports Matter grant.

“We’re an inner-city school,” said coach Williams. “We don't get a lot and have to work for what we want. These kids can now hold their chests up and say, ‘Yeah I look good.’ That’s one of the many reasons why I’m so grateful that we received this grant.”

Coach Williams also wants to display the program's history, including a trophy case, record book, and highlights of former athletes like 1976 graduate William Snoddy, who went on to compete at the University of Oklahoma. In 1977, he won the NCAA 200-meter dash title, and in 1978, he ran the 100 meters in 9.87 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded.

The current team has a long history of success. Williams took over as coach seven years ago, and the team has made the playoffs every season since, with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Williams, administrators, and DICK'S Community Marketing Manager Kari Sumpter organised a pep rally at the school to celebrate the big news. When Kari heard Coach Williams' story and the quote that he never gave up on, she started reaching out to programs in the area to see how we could help.

“We were just blown away,” coach Williams said of the rally. “The kids were crying, everyone was crying.

“Now, I can throw that quote away.”

As the final chapter of Coach Williams' story was being written, more Sports Matter grants were providing unexpected twists that delighted young track athletes.

Back in Michigan, Tiffany Thomas, Community Marketing Manager, was hard at work devising a solution to provide opportunities on the track for younger female athletes. It would lead her to collaborate with the LEAD Foundation, a southeast Michigan organization that offers elite coaching, world-class experiences, and unparalleled support, such as transportation to training.

Tiffany gave the group a $15,000 Sports Matter grant.

“It’s such a wonderful partnership,” Tiffany said. “They have all of the coaches and knowledge of running a sports program and the ability to work with the kids. We had the connections and put them in touch with the groups.”

The LEAD track club is for students in fourth through twelfth grades, with a focus on serving under-resourced or at-risk student athletes in the area. In addition to speed clinics, camps, and track events, the club offers a dynamic programme focused on developing education, life skills, and community service initiatives.

Sierra Willis, the program's head coach and instructor, also coaches her husband, Olympian Nick Willis, among other talented athletes.

“Running and coaching is my passion, and for the last 20 years my daily run has been such a source of joy and health – both mentally and physically,” said Sierra. “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to support girls running in southeast Michigan by equipping them both with the skills to excel, and the tools to enjoy the sport for a lifetime.”

Both The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation and Brooks Running share a passion for assisting young athletes as they pursue their athletic dreams. As part of this initiative, we are proud of our partnership's support for these young athletes and many others.