Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

USA Volleyball Announces Partnership with RISE

Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 16, 2018) – The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and USA Volleyball have joined forces in an exciting partnership aimed at incorporating RISE’s leadership and education programs into the USA Volleyball community.

RISE, a nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, is dedicated to using the unifying power of sports to drive social progress and improve race relations. Through public awareness campaigns and educational programming, RISE brings together professional sports leagues, organizations, athletes, educators, media networks, and sports professionals to promote understanding, respect, and equality.

USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis expressed the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, stating, “A fundamental pillar of USA Volleyball is to be welcoming to members of all ethnicities. We are proud to be partnering with RISE to further grow the diversity and inclusion of our sport and to take a stand against racism.”

The partnership between USA Volleyball and RISE will encompass a range of initiatives, including education and training programs, workshops, athlete testimonials, and fan engagements throughout the year in different parts of the country. The first batch of initiatives is already underway at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the U.S. Women’s National Team is hosting Italy, Poland, and Turkey.

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Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO, expressed her excitement about the collaboration: “RISE is proud to partner with USA Volleyball to advance our mission of using sports to improve equality. We look forward to bringing our leadership and education programs to the USA Volleyball community and empowering them to be solution-oriented advocates for progress.”

Ken Shropshire, a member of both the USA Volleyball and RISE board of directors, emphasized the significance of this partnership in positively impacting race relations. He stated, “This partnership elevates the potential impact both can have on this perilous issue.”

One of the key programs of RISE is its leadership program, which aims to empower sports administrators, coaches, and student-athletes to become leaders in discussing and addressing racism, prejudice, diversity, and inclusivity within their teams, schools, and communities. Participants in the program gain insights into the history of race and sports, understand the power of sports to drive change, and learn how they can take a leadership role in improving race relations.

The impact of this program on high school participants has been significant. In the 2016-17 school year, 95% of participants reported feeling culturally competent, 92% said they now have the skills to have difficult conversations about race, and 94% stated they would intervene if they witnessed discrimination.

Lori Okimura, chair of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors and a member of the RISE advisory board, commended RISE for initiating conversations that have led to substantial change in racial equality. She said, “I recognize the value of the conversation RISE has started across America about racial equality and how to empower athletes, coaches, and administrators to strive for change.”

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RISE also engages fans through initiatives like “It Takes All Colors,” a digital photo booth where fans can take the RISE pledge against discrimination and share their photos on social media. This fan engagement has been featured at events such as Super Bowl 50, 51, and 52, the NHL’s Winter Classic, Pac-12 championships, and Miami Dolphin games.

Foluke Akinradewo, a two-time Olympic medalist with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, expressed her support for the RISE/USAV partnership and encouraged others to take the pledge on the RISE homepage.

To learn more about RISE and their mission, visit