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AFH News


AFH to Bring Six Professional, Olympic, Paralympic and Collegiate Athletes to Tanzania for Youth Sports Empowerment Program

WASHINGTON D.C.- On Tuesday, October 18, 2022 a team of nine (9) American athletes and staff from Athletes for Hope (AFH) and World Learning will travel to Arusha, Tanzania as part of a seven (7) day project, “Building Life Skills in Youth Through Sports: Program for Tanzania” geared to empower girls and young women through basketball and sport. This two-way exchange project is a collaboration through the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy division in conjunction with World Learning and Athletes for Hope. The initial inbound event included ten (10) Tanzanian young women who participated in cultural, educational and sport-related exchange opportunities while in the Washington, DC area in January 2020.

The seven-day outbound program will include cultural and educational visits, and life skill sessions using the AFH Fit and Whole Being Athlete mental health curriculum conducted by American participants to support sports-based youth development projects in Tanzania. Each activity on the schedule is focused on increased leadership skills, encouraging positive mental health, confidence, inclusion, cross-cultural understanding, female empowerment, and youth development at the Orkeeswa School, in Monduli, Tanzania.

“It’s a privilege to continue to expand the global impact of Athletes for Hope in collaboration with World Learning and the U.S. State Department,” said AFH CEO Jason Belinkie. “We are thrilled to bring core elements of AFH programming to students and educators at the Orkeeswa School through our staff leadership and AFH Athlete participants.”

Athlete participants include Michelle Carter (Olympian, USA Track & Field), Awvee Storey (Coach, WNBA/NBA G League and retired NBA), Chastity Melvin (retired WNBA), Zavier Moore (Southern University Baseball), Lacey Henderson (Paralympian, USA Track & Field), and Megan Montefusco (NWSL, Orlando Pride).

For media inquiries please contact: Kylie Reeves ( 919-593-7975


Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 16 years, AFH has educated more than 10,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus upon helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world. To learn more, visit

World Learning

World Learning is a global nonprofit empowering people and strengthening institutions through education, sustainable development, and exchange programs. World Learning helps people and communities build brighter futures through six core program areas: people-to-people exchanges, global education, institutional strengthening, youth workforce and entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and TESOL | English teacher training. 

World Learning’s professional exchanges, such as the U.S. Department of State-funded International Sports Programming Initiative include networking opportunities with U.S. and international counterparts, site visits, and industry and community discussions. Programs emphasize experiential learning and leadership development and are customized to the needs and contexts of participants. Through exchange programs, World Learning helps the next generation of global leaders expand their sense of civic responsibility, establish relationships across ethnic, religious, and national lines, and develop the skills and knowledge to transform their communities and countries.

To learn more, visit

U.S. Department of State, Sports Diplomacy Division 

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) fosters mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational, professional and cultural exchanges. The Bureau promotes personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad, and presents U.S. history, society, art and culture in all of its diversity to overseas audiences. 

The Sports Diplomacy division (formerly SportsUnited) uses the international language of sports as a tool to promote tolerance, understanding and the peaceful resolution/prevention of conflict; to increase awareness among young people of the importance of following a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness in order to prevent illness, substance abuse, and negative behaviors; and to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities by providing inclusive sports opportunities that contribute to the physical and psychological health of people at all ages who experience disabilities. To learn more about Sports Diplomacy, visit:

AFH News


Athletes for Hope and Southern University Team Up to Support Mental Health & Wellness

Update | August 29, 2022: You can find a recap of this event in BR Proud.

Baton Rouge, LA, August 16 – Athletes for Hope (AFH) is proud to support the Wellness Festival on the Bluff, presented by NAMI Louisiana, scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2022. The event will take place at the Southern University Event Center (8101 James J Prestage St, Baton Rouge, LA 70807) from 10am to 4pm in collaboration with Southern University Athletics, Student Government Association and the Department of Social Work.

As part of Southern University Athletics’ Fan Fest Weekend, the Wellness Festival will include presentations from mental health professionals and advocates. Highlights include a presentation from NAMI National CEO Daniel Gillison who will raise awareness about the mental health needs of college students and an AFH Whole Being Athlete panel moderated by Dr. Marlin Hollins, Southern University Assistant Athletic Director of Advancement, focusing on campus area mental health resources. Yoga, mindfulness moments and targeted vendors focusing on mental health community support will all round out this incredible day of learning.

“During a time where athlete mental health awareness and suicide prevention is needed more than ever, AFH sees a significant and important opportunity in Baton Rouge to support and strengthen the mental health and wellness resources surrounding Southern University,” said Suzanne Potts, LMSW, MPH, AFH University National Director and Mental Health Program Lead. “We are grateful for the campus community, Southern Athletic Department and NAMI Louisiana for their commitment to making this event a huge success and connecting Southern students with a day of reflection, resource sharing and fun.”

This event is funded in part by a grant from the Pennington Family Foundation which supports a larger initiative with Athletes for Hope University (AFH U), a program that educates and connects student-athletes from LSU and Southern University to service and volunteerism, as well as mental health and advocacy efforts via AFH’s Whole Being Athlete. AFH U launched in 2013 and now operates at 14 university campuses across the U.S., including 5 HBCUs while Whole Being Athlete launched in May of 2021.

For media inquiries, please contact: Kenya Warren-Hollins (, 504-428-9737)

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About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 15 years, AFH has educated more than 10,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and its network includes thousands of athletes across nearly every sport. AFH’s core programs focus on underserved youth physical activity and leadership, mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH Athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.

AFH News

Kickoff Week: Celebrating the Whole Being Athlete

by Suzanne Potts, LMSW, MPH

So much of the world is in turmoil right now, from war in Ukraine, dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, continued racial and social injustices, and more. The sports world is evolving and growing, with pending pay disputes, gender equality discussions and battles over greater visibility for female athletes. It seems no one is escaping the stress of work, family or personal trauma and more athletes are addressing the important topic of mental health. 

The Whole Being Athlete Program (WBAP) was established last year to uplift and elevate athlete voices to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.The vision of the AFH’s Whole Being Athlete Program (WBAP) is to build a powerful mental health community that empowers athletes to share their stories to raise awareness, access, and acceptability of mental health resources, with a focus on underserved populations. We believe everyone has the power to own their story and that by sharing experiences, we can empower and encourage others to seek help as needed. 

On Monday, April 18, 2022, Athletes for Hope is proud to kick off a week of celebration and announce our first Whole Being Athlete Ambassadors as examples of professional, Olympic, Paralympic and student-athletes who courageously join the growing number of mental health advocates. We look forward to announcing them on Tuesday, April 19th. These amazing leaders will collaborate with AFH along this journey to tell their stories, highlight resources, and encourage others to bravely step forward as advocates for better mental health.

In May, with support of other mental health partners and advocates, Athletes for Hope will share advocacy opportunities, service activations, personal stories and resources around athlete mental health. We will feature a wide range of mental health organizations, along with elevating athlete voices and evidence-based data about why mental health is a growing concern for us all. Our hope is that by using our collective voices to speak openly and honestly, we can help reduce the stigmas around mental illness for all.

We encourage you to join us each week via our social media and engage in this crucial conversation that impacts us all. If you’d like to get involved with this work at Athletes for Hope, please let us know here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please call:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline

1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

M-F 10am-8pm Eastern

AFH News

Athletes for Hope Names Jason Belinkie as Chief Executive Officer

Jason Belinkie, newly appointed CEO of Athletes for Hope

Athletes for Hope appoints its Chief Operating Officer to Organization Lead

BETHESDA, MD, January 10, 2022 ­– Athletes for Hope (AFH) announced today that Jason Belinkie has been named Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2022. He succeeds Ivan Blumberg, who served as CEO since AFH’s inception in 2006 and recently transitioned into an advisory role within the organization.

“I’ve had the honor and privilege of working hand in hand with Jason for more than 15 years and I know he possesses the passion, commitment, and leadership that will help AFH achieve unprecedented growth,” said Ivan Blumberg, Founding CEO of AFH. “I could not be prouder to turn over the reins to Jason and I’m thrilled to watch him succeed in this role – he’s earned it.”

Prior to being appointed to CEO, Jason oversaw the day-to-day management of AFH and orchestrated key strategic partnerships in his role as Chief Operating Officer. Jason joined the organization on the first day it opened its doors and has played a pivotal role in building the organization from the ground up and setting it up for future success. 

“It is truly an honor to be appointed CEO of an organization that has helped mold me into the person I am today,” said Jason Belinkie. “I’m thrilled to work with our incredible staff, Board of Directors, partners and athletes to elevate AFH’s global impact for years to come.”

Outside of AFH, Jason coaches cross country and track at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and serves on the boards of Hope for Henry and the University of Pennsylvania Track & Field Team. He is also the co-author along with his wife, Michelle, of a children’s book, Little Moments, which was inspired by his children. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.


About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm and 10 other elite athletes in 2007, Athletes for Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that positions athletes to help support the causes they care about through education and community connection. Along with its Causeway educational workshop series, AFH’s programs focus upon underserved youth physical activity and leadership, hospital visits, athlete mental health and a variety of advocacy opportunities.

AFH News

Athletes for Hope Announces $1 Million Pledge from the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation

The $1 million pledge will establish a fund to carry Athletes for Hope’s mission forward in honor of Ivan Blumberg as he steps down as CEO

BETHESDA, MD ­– Athletes for Hope (AFH) announced today that after 15 years of serving as Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Blumberg will be stepping down and transitioning into an advisory role at the end of 2021. To honor his legacy and all he has done for AFH, the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation has established the Ivan Blumberg Legacy Fund with a generous gift of $1 million. The fund will be used to seed-fund new – or enhance existing ways – to move AFH’s mission forward, with a particular focus on underserved communities.

“This commitment comes with my great hope for continued success for AFH, my admiration and respect for Ivan, and my warm wishes to the entire AFH team,” said Gordon Gund, Trustee of the Foundation and AFH Director Emeritus. “I would hope that others who also want to recognize all that Ivan has done for AFH and anyone who wishes to help uplift AFH’s mission will want to add their support to this fund as well.”

“Leading AFH has been the honor of my professional career and I feel as though I gave AFH a fraction of what it has given me in return,” said Ivan Blumberg. “While I humbly thank Gordon for honoring my time at AFH, this gift is truly a testament to the staff, Board, longtime partners and the athletes who are making the world a better place every single day.”

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Mia Hamm, Andre Agassi, Warrick Dunn, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alonzo Mourning and 6 other elite athletes in 2007, AFH has reshaped the sports philanthropy industry with Ivan at the helm. Aided by AFH’s Causeway Program, a workshop series that Ivan helped pioneer, the organization positions athletes to help support the causes they care about. Current programming focuses on underserved youth physical activity and leadership, hospital visits, athlete mental health and a variety of advocacy opportunities.

“To put it simply, without Ivan Blumberg, there never would have been an Athletes for Hope,” said Mark Levinstein, AFH Board Chair. “With his drive and passion to help and inspire others, Ivan has positioned the organization for tremendous success in the future.”

Prior to AFH, Ivan represented athletes for the majority of his career including clients such as Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi. He is a 1980 graduate of Hobart College and a 1983 graduate of Washington University School of Law. Outside of AFH, Ivan is involved in a variety of charitable organizations in the Washington, D.C.-area.

AFH looks forward to announcing new leadership positions in the beginning of 2022. In the meantime, those who wish to contribute to the Ivan Blumberg Legacy Fund can do so at


About Athletes for Hope

Athletes for Hope is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that aims to educate, encourage, and assist athletes in their efforts to engage with community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of and support for those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same. Through this mission and the vision of its Founding Athletes, Athletes for Hope empowers collegiate, professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes to channel their energy for a common goal: to make a difference in the world.