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RISE Makes Impact at 2023 NCAA Women's and Men's Final Four

Participation Included Leadership Workshops, Critical Conversation and Champions of Change Experience at NCAA Women's Final Four in Dallas and Champions of Change Experience at NCAA Men's Final Four in Houston

April 6, 2023

NEW YORK - RISE, the national nonprofit coalition of major U.S. sports leagues and media networks that uses sports to eliminate racism and champion social justice, is proud to have made a positive impact at the 2023 NCAA Women's and Men's Final Four in Dallas and Houston.

Inside Tourney Town at the NCAA Women's Final Four, RISE hosted a Critical Conversation panel discussion during “Beyond the Baseline,” a series of talks and panels that are designed to empower and equip women in sport and business with tools for personal and professional success.

The panel titled, “Athlete Advocates: How Athletes Leverage Their Voices and Platforms to Raise Awareness and Influence Change,” focused on women student-athlete activism and the impact it has on amplifying and advancing women's issues in sports featuring, Niya Blair Hackworth (Director of Inclusion, NCAA), Jessica Johnson (Former NCAA Student-Athlete, Arkansas), Angela Martin (Director of Athletics, University of Texas-Dallas) and Charmin Smith (Head Women's Basketball Coach, University of California-Berkeley).

Panel of speakers

Throughout the weekend in Tourney Town at the NCAA Women's Final Four and Fan Fest at the NCAA Men's Final Four, RISE showcased “Champions of Change,” a fan experience which included an immersive, multi-sensory journey designed to educate, evoke empathy and inspire action.

The experience provided fans the opportunity to learn about the historic intersection of sports and social justice through a digital timeline that shared firsthand experiences of the role race has played in the lives of athletes and sports leaders.

In addition to the fan-facing activities, RISE was proud to partner with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) to provide education learning opportunities during the WBCA Convention which also took place in Dallas, overlapping with the NCAA Women's Final Four. Coaches and administrators participated in Leadership Workshops that are designed to challenge participants to consider the multifaceted nature of their identities, the importance of perspective taking in leadership and their roles in fostering more inclusive teams and campus environments.

“To be able to impact the NCAA women's and men's basketball championships was an incredible experience for our organization,” said RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford. “We would like to express our thanks and gratitude to all of the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans that participated in these events to help us drive our mission.”

About RISE

RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations. Through partnerships and programs, RISE inspires leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality. RISE's vision is to create a nation unified through sports committed to racial equity and social justice. Follow RISE on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @RISEtoWIN or learn more at https://risetowin.org

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