Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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DICK’S Sporting Goods Awards $75,000 Grant to Figure Skating in Harlem


Beyond the dazzling display of skating prowess, figure skating in Harlem represents a sanctuary of hope and opportunity for young girls hailing from under-resourced communities. Since its inception in 1997, this organization has been instrumental in fostering academic excellence and physical well-being among its students, empowering them with essential life skills such as leadership, self-confidence, and teamwork.

The program's comprehensive approach goes beyond skating, encompassing academic pursuits, spoken word, and tutoring. Each day, before donning their skates and taking to the ice, students devote ample time to homework and at least one academic session. Notably, maintaining a B average or above in school is a prerequisite for participation, underscoring the organization's unwavering commitment to educational excellence.

“We really try to encourage academic excellence or at least academic proficiency so that we’re cultivating really holistic children who will go off into the world and hopefully be leaders in their own capacity,” said Ila Epperson, Assistant Director of Skating.
Ila's deep appreciation for the invaluable impact that Figure Skating in Harlem can have on young girls stems from her own experience as a participant in the program. Her journey began at the tender age of five in 2008, and she remained an active member until her graduation from high school in 2020. She later returned as a coach for the 2021-2022 season and, due to her outstanding performance, was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of Skating in July of last year. "Figure Skating in Harlem gave me two invaluable gifts - my voice and the confidence to navigate the world and stay grounded in myself," Ila shares. "So, when I teach the kids, my top priority is to help them feel centered and empowered as leaders."
Becky Petro, the Manager of Charitable Giving at The DICK’S Foundation, first learned about Figure Skating in Harlem at the Beyond Sport conference in November of last year. There, she met Alex Wasch, the organization's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. Initially, the team submitted a proposal for a $25,000 grant, but as Becky and local Community Marketing Managers Brian Hagerman and Matt Catacchio learned more about the program and the breadth of resources and opportunities it offered to students, they recognized that The DICK’S Foundation could do even more to support the organization's mission. "We knew that they would be an ideal candidate for 75for75," Becky says.
Launched in March, the 75for75 Sports Matter Grant Program is an integral component of the DICK'S Sports Change Lives campaign, commemorating the company's 75th anniversary. The initiative was designed to award 75 grants, each worth $75,000, to under-resourced youth sports programs across the United States.
In March, Becky and other representatives from The DICK'S Foundation visited Harlem to present the Sports Matter Grant to the Figure Skating in Harlem team during a practice session. As the girls were putting on their skates in the locker room, one of them discovered the grant letter in her coat pocket and asked their coach to read it aloud.
“She read the letter in front of the girls, and they all screamed and chanted ‘75!’” said Becky.
“This funding will be tangible for both the students and staff,” said Ila. “It will help open so many doors and give the kids so many opportunities.”