The WNBA union will seek to continue supporting causes in each of the league’s 12 markets and has formed a partnership with Pepsi Stronger Together to do so.
For the 25th. WNBA season in 2021, the league and the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA) combined to form a social justice council as part of ongoing efforts to help communities locally. The Pepsi deal is part of that work.
“It’s a players association working with a major national brand, and they haven’t really seen us in that space before,” said WBNPA Executive Director Terri Jackson. “They haven’t always given us that opportunity, but we are going to take advantage of what we have right now.”
The WNBPA’s partnership with Pepsi Stronger Together, the company’s initiative to support community engagement projects, will begin by giving Girls on the Run Los Angeles $ 50,000. This organization helps give young women self-confidence through physical activity and personal development.
Future community impact programs for the other 11 WNBA cities will be decided by an advisory panel that includes players from those cities.
“We as a players’ association are in the fight because we fight for ourselves,” said WNBPA Executive Committee Chair Nneka Ogwumike. “That gives us the start to contribute to that same struggle, and to truly live it, for our communities. This is a wonderful way to show that it extends outside of what we are experiencing.”
Ogwumike, who has been with the Sparks since she was first selected in 2012, said she has met several young people who have been through the Girls on the Run LA program.
“Their mission truly represents what the WNBPA is all about: creating resources and providing access for girls to be stronger,” said Ogwumike. “Sport has changed my life so much. The work of those who came before us is the one that paved the way for futures that we didn’t even know could be as brilliant as they are. That’s what it’s all about.”
Jackson said the players’ association sees community involvement as an essential part of organizing, in this case focusing in particular on public health projects like Girls on the Run.
“We seek to identify partners who align with our values and truly understand our players and support who they are,” Jackson said. “It will look different in each city because those players will have a slightly different perspective on the public health initiative they want to push.”
ESPN’s Holly Rowe contributed to this report.