afh Archives - Athletes for Hope

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AFH Advocacy

AFH Advocacy

Athletes & Addressing Food Insecurity

This winter, Athletes for Hope has been tackling the disparities of food insecurity across our AFH University campuses through service projects and advocacy. Our athletes believe that nobody should have to choose between paying a bill or nourishing their bodies.

Food insecurity affects people from every walk of life, including athletes and those in the community right around us – whether you see it or not. 

Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation for a family or can last a long time.

Who does it affect?

Hunger occurs for people from all walks of life – including athletes – but doesn’t affect everyone equally. Groups like children, seniors and black, indigenous, and other people of color face hunger at higher rates. Hunger also affects those living in poverty.

60% of collegiate athletes experience food insecurity in the United States.

How can athletes help?

There are many different ways athletes can use their platforms to combat food insecurity! Education is always at the start so be sure to familiarize yourself with the topic and learn how it affects the communities closest to you. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Volunteer at your local food pantry:
  • Educate & Advocate :
  • Donate to a national or local organization
  • Share the infographics below on your social media as a way to raise awareness for food insecurity this winter.

Our Impact in 2019

Athletes for Hope served more athletes and communities than ever before in 2019. Through our programs such as AFH FIT, AFH University and Global Gender Equality, we positively impacted tens of thousands of underserved people in communities around the globe, equipped hundreds of athletes with the tools to be effective community advocates, and connected those athletes to organizations they care about all over the world! A huge thank you to all of our friends, partners, and AFH’s network of more than 7,000 professional, Olympic and college athletes – the incredible 2019 highlights below would not be possible without you.


The AFH FIT program made huge strides in 2019. We developed a brand new curriculum called C.H.A.M.P.S (Courage, Honesty, Accountability, Mindfulness, Perseverance, and Sportsmanship), and we have utilized this new curriculum in reaching and impacting more than 100,000 underserved children this year through 200 school and after-school visits, and our virtual program which utilizes C.H.A.M.P.S. Challenge Videos.

AFH University:

In 2019 AFH U added two new campuses (UCLA and Georgetown), increased our overall service hours by 71% and expanded the number of community partners by 85%. Over 2,500 AFH student-athletes participated in visits with charitable organizations across eight different college campuses in the 2018-2019 school year, positively impacting thousands of underserved individuals. We also initiated our first national Student-Athlete and Team of the Year Award and held our first year-end service recognition events in Baton Rouge and Lansing, Michigan.

Global Gender Equality Program:

In July of this year, Athletes for Hope was selected as one of five sport specialists in the world to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals. We created and funded the premiere Gender Equality Summit at the 2019 World Cup that reached 63 million people on social media. We also developed a Gender Equality Curriculum & phase one research for the European Union SWinG Female Mentorship.

AFH Celebrates 13 Years at the 2019 Gala:

The AFH Gala this November was a smashing success! 320 guests joined us for a night of celebrations, as we honored philanthropic advisor Stephen Whisnant, Former NFL player and philanthropists Derrick and Emma Dockery, and professional soccer player Megan Oyster. We  are very close to confirming an event date and location (most likely mid- November) for 2020. Stay tuned! Read this wrap up of the event and view pictures.

Focusing Our Eyes on 2020:

Thank you for all you’ve done to support AFH this year- we wouldn’t be here without you. With your continued support, we can make 2020 the most impactful yet. If you would like to make a year-end donation to Athletes for Hope, you can do so here.

Oh What A Night! AFH Celebrates 13 Years with Gala

On November 9, 2019, Athletes for Hope brought together more than 300 of its supporters in honor of our 13th anniversary in Bender Arena at American University in Washington, D.C. The evening featured a cocktail hour filled with various sports games, a photo booth, and even two body contortionists.

During the program portion of the evening, AFH CEO Ivan Blumberg reflected on 13 years of AFH programs and the positive impact they have continued to generate in communities across the U.S. and beyond. Following Ivan, we awarded our first ever Athlete of the Year award to Megan Oyster, and honored Stephen Whisnant and Emma and Derrick Dockery. The latter part of the evening featured an exciting silent and live auction that provided once in a lifetime opportunities such as attending the Star Wars 9 premiere, VIP Indy 500 experience, and attending the 2020 US Open.

The evening was a tremendous success for Athletes for Hope, and we look forward to hosting this event on an annual basis in the years to come!

AFH Staff Highlight: Dr. Ashleigh Huffman

In 2017, Athletes for Hope began a global gender equality initiative in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to educate and activate athletes around the world. Our work in Tanzania and Kenya has expanded over the past year and we are proud to announce Dr. Ashleigh Huffman has accepted a role as AFH’s new Global Director of Gender Equality to head up our increasing efforts.

Ashleigh is an experienced educator and entrepreneur in the global sports diplomacy and women’s empowerment movements. We sat down with her to discuss her upcoming role and what she’s looking forward to most at AFH.

“Although I only started working at Athletes for Hope in the last month, these words have always been a part of me. As a former athlete turned professor turned nonprofit professional, I have spent my career using sport as a tool to empower others and promote hope. I’ve worked in some of the darkest post-conflict, post-disaster zones in the world, where crime, poverty, and injustice reign supreme. But even in the bleakest of situations, there’s something a soccer ball or a basketball does that little else can. It connects us with our inner child. It unites us as teammates. It reminds us of our shared humanity. It provides an escape from the difficult moments. It teaches us what it means to get up again, to rise from the loss, the mistake, or the fall. Ultimately, it offers hope.

As the Global Director for Gender Equality, I look forward to merging my international experiences with the incredible work that is already being done at AFH. Having worked closely with the U.S. Department of State, espnW, and other corporate, nonprofit, and educational entities, I believe there is an opportunity to unite those who are passionate about sport to create a better, more inclusive and equitable society. Inspired by the words of Margaret Mead, I believe a small group of thoughtful, committed athlete-citizens can change the world and will.

With the start of the new year upon us, I am thankful for the opportunity to work at an organization that believes in the power of sport to change the world. I am grateful to the founders, like Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who recognized that the athlete platform could be a force for good. And I’m excited to expand the work of AFH to a global market and promote the message of hope among all nations.”

Welcome to the team, Ashleigh. We look forward to working with you and making a difference around the globe through AFH member athletes.

AFH Summer Interns

Athletes for Hope offers internships for high school and college students interested in the field of sports philanthropy. Many of the interns we select are accomplished athletes in their schools. This year we are lucky to have five interns from a variety of schools, including three from one of our AFH U schools, Michigan State University. We were so impressed with their backgrounds that we asked the students to share a little about themselves and why they chose to intern at our organization.

Hannah Ackers, Michigan State University

hannah ackers

My name is Hannah Ackers, and I am from Pennsylvania. I am 20 years old, and I am a field hockey player at Michigan State. I am going to be a junior this coming fall majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Peace and Justice studies. I plan on becoming a nurse after my field hockey career. I have been volunteering at Sparrow Hospital since February with the Pediatrics Unit and with Athletes for Hope, and I have started working this summer as a Nurse’s Aide in the dementia unit at a nursing home. All of these experiences have made me very passionate about giving back to those who really need the help and giving those people a great experience while I am with them that brings them joy and happiness.

Bailey Higgins, Michigan State University

Bailey Intern

I am a rising senior majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Health Promotion at Michigan State University. I have always been passionate about getting involved on campus and in the community. I serve as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee President which allows me to represent student-athletes when meeting with the Athletic Department and other leadership groups on campus.

I came to MSU from Louisville, Kentucky so the winters have definitely been an adjustment. After I graduate, my plan is to move home and attend nursing school to become a travel nurse. I am very excited to be working with Athletes for Hope and can’t wait to see the impact that can be made.

Rickey Miezan, Stanford University

rickey intern

My name is Ricky Miezan, and I am from Alexandria, Virginia.  Currently, I am a senior at Episcopal High School. Next year I will be attending Stanford University to continue my education, as well as my football career. All my life I have looked up to athletes of all different levels. Now that I am entering the next stage of my life where my platform increases, I want to take full advantage of that and have an impact on the rising generation.

Sawyer Post, Michigan State University

Hi, my name is Sawyer Post. I am from Vista, CA in San Diego County. I just finished up my freshman year at Michigan State University. I am a member of the MSU field hockey team. I am working towards a degree in Special Education with minors in psychology and TESOL. I have a passion for working with youth and love working with children of all ages and abilities. I look forward to working with everyone this summer!

Reuben Winston, Dickinson College

My name is Reuben Winston and I am from Potomac, Maryland. I just completed my freshman year at Dickinson College where I competed in Cross Country and both Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field. While my major is currently undecided, I have a strong interest in International Business as travel has been a big part of my life. I love giving back to the community; I have a special buddy who I have been friends with for many years. He and I have spent countless hours together and have a special bond that I am certain will last a lifetime. I am very excited to be interning at Athletes for Hope and look forward to helping in any way that I can.

Welcome, interns. We look forward to working with you this summer!