The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) works with student-athletes, coaches and administrators at every level to equip them with the knowledge and skills to stand up against racism and advance the conversation around race relations. With sports being central to all that we do, participants learn about the history of race and sports, its power to drive change and how they can become leaders in their teams, schools and communities.

Our Approach

We realize that improving race relations is complex. That’s why we have developed a multi-level program to increase awareness, build skills and create "safe spaces" to have difficult conversations.

Our programs include three key components to enable lasting change.

  • We develop materials and activities that are engaging and challenging.
  • We take a train-the-trainer approach to enhance leadership skills within each school and partner organization.
  • We assess our programs to identify what’s making the greatest impact and identify ways to improve.
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College Leadership Program

College leadership

RISE teams up with colleges and universities and collegiate conferences (such as the Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference) to provide a multifaceted leadership program for athletic departments. RISE’s on-campus efforts often begin with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee to provide training that increases awareness, builds skills and creates safe spaces to have difficult conversations about race. A multitude of topics are covered within the curriculum, such as identity, implicit bias and microaggressions. These topics are taught through a series of activities that each are aligned with core skills such as perspective taking and conflict resolution, critical to improving race relations. These programs can be customized to the specific needs of a college, university or conference. RISE has implemented leadership programs at the following universities: DePauw University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, University of Michigan and University of Missouri.

Learn more about RISE college programs

Request RISE education programs


We believe that in order to change behavior, we need to change perceptions and promote greater understanding. Reference the resources below designed to help you promote understanding, respect and equality.

RISE Events

High School Leadership Program Finale Fall 2016
358 kids from 7 high schools in Michigan, who participated in our anti-racism curriculum, came together in November, 2016 to meet each other at the conclusion of the program.
MLK Day "Changing the Game" Town Hall
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, RISE were joined by University of Michigan Athletics student-athletes, Desmond Howard and AD Warde Manuel for a Town Hall honoring Dr. King and coming up with solutions to improve race relations.
Saturday Morning Hoops
Saturday Morning Hoops program in New Orleans, which ran for six consecutive Saturdays, was developed by the NBA in collaboration with the New Orleans Pelicans, New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC), Up2Us Sports, and RISE to help build stronger and safer communities between New Orleans youth and the New Orleans Police Department.
Detroit PAL Honors RISE
On March 2, the Detroit Police Athletic League honored RISE with its Varner/Tenbusch "Game Changer" Award for our work with student-athletes in Michigan and across the country. RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson accepted the award at the MVP Awards dinner.
RISE Joins Mizzou Made Program
RISE brought together more than 110 Mizzou Athletics student-athletes on March 8 as part of Mizzou Made program to explore identity, diversity, shared values and identifying ways to be leaders to create a more inclusive environment that values diversity.
Michigan State University Sociology of Sport Lecture
On March 15, we were at Michigan State University in Sociology of Sport class, where we challenged students to reflect on the way they view the world and the assumptions that accompany those viewpoints. We also asked them to reflect on how their experiences and values inform their perspectives. While we suggested they stay true to their values, it's always key to allow room for new experiences and viewpoints.