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Philanthropy News
September 18, 2019


Contact: Natalie Parscher, or 614-251-4000

Aspen Institute Announces Youth Sports Partnership In Central Ohio

Columbus Foundation among funders supporting access to sport options for area youth

Columbus, Ohio (September 18, 2019)—Today, the Aspen Institute announced a new partnership with The Columbus Foundation and others aimed at researching and recommending ways to increase access to sports opportunities for young people in Franklin County. The announcement took place during the Project Play Summit in Detroit.

The State of Play Central Ohio will analyze the state of youth sports in Franklin County, and offer recommendations to grow access to quality sport options for all children. The ten-month analysis will examine how well adults in the region are serving youth through sports, regardless of zip code or ability.

“Ohio’s historic sports culture exemplifies the ‘Columbus Way,’ creating a foundation for community mobility, yet opportunities are greatly disparate.” — Tom Farrey, Sports & Society Program Executive Director, the Aspen Institute.

“Ohio’s historic sports culture exemplifies the ‘Columbus Way,’ creating a foundation for community mobility, yet opportunities are greatly disparate,” said Tom Farrey, Sports & Society Program Executive Director at the Aspen Institute. “We are thrilled to be working with The Columbus Foundation, Lindy Infante Foundation, the Columbus Youth Foundation and other partners to better understand the opportunities available to youth in central Ohio and work with community leaders to develop recommendations for growing access to quality sport experiences for all youth.”

Guided by a task force of local leaders, the report will feature results from a survey of central Ohio youth, findings on strengths and gaps in providing access to sport, recommendations and big “Game Changer” opportunities, and sector-specific ideas that stakeholders could adopt. It will be released at the 2020 Project Play Summit and will be available in Fall 2020.

The report is commissioned by The Columbus Foundation, Lindy Infante Foundation, Columbus Recreation and Parks Foundation, Columbus Youth Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the Chris and Lori Holtmann Foundation Fund.

“Having a better understanding of youth sports and recreation in central Ohio will have an important impact on directing grantmaking, affecting collaboration among youth serving organizations, and can even better inform civic priorities,” said Dan Sharpe, Vice President for Community Research and Grants Management at The Columbus Foundation. “Project Play has a reputation, nationally, and internationally, of inciting change and catalyzing opportunity to better serve youth.”

In 2018, the Columbus-based Lindy Infante Foundation was one of a small cohort of organizations across the nation named as a Project Play Champion for taking new, meaningful actions consistent with the strategies of Project Play. In an exclusive partnership with ESPN, the #DontRetireKid campaign is a joint effort with Project Play to combat the declining youth participation rates in sports.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. The mission of its Sports & Society Program is to convene leaders, foster dialogue, and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest, with a focus on the development of healthy children and communities. Its signature initiative is Project Play, which develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports. State of Play Central Ohio is the Aspen Institute’s third assessment of a U.S. county, and the ninth overall community report. For more information, visit

About The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation serves nearly 3,000 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and one of the top 10 largest community foundations in the United States.