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Roy Kessel: Building More Inclusive Communities Through Sports

Roy Kessel: Building More Inclusive Communities Through Sports


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi! It’s me, Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar is Roy Kessel, founder, Sports Philanthropy Network!

Spiffy: Welcome Roy. Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge Sports Philanthropy Network is addressing?

Roy: It’s great to be here, Spiffy! Our vision is to build stronger, healthier, and more inclusive communities through sports. We do that by creating opportunities for access to sports by working to pay participation fees, find sports equipment, gain access to training facilities, provide transportation, and supply tickets to sporting events. Our mascot named SPORTe is spelled with an “E” because sports are for everyone, and not with a “Y” because nobody should have to ask WHY they cannot play sports.

Spiffy: That’s a great mission! What motivates you to do it?

Roy: We love helping kids get the opportunity to play sports. Remaining active is crucial to physical, mental, and emotional health. We know that sports can break down barriers, keep kids engaged in education, and keep them away from gangs, drugs, and violence. Our motivation is to understand how much we love sports and how we want everyone to have the opportunity to experience sports.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Roy: Our work creates social impact by providing sports opportunities, breaking down barriers to sports access, creating a safe environment for play, giving a voice to the under-represented, and allowing all groups access, regardless of socio-economic status, gender, race, or sexual orientation.

Spiffy: That’s amazing! Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?

Roy: We recently launched our fifteenth chapter and are on our way to hitting our goal of 30 chapters by July 4, 2024. These chapters allow us to make an impact at the local level and support organizations that are doing incredible work in their local communities.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Roy: We are building a pipeline of philanthropy to create social impact. Our three guiding principles are athlete health and safety (concussions, heart screenings, mental health, and prevention of athlete abuse), sports access (participation fees, equipment, training, transportation, and tickets), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (social justice, LGBTQIA+, adaptive sports, women, minorities, and more).

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Roy—it’s been an honor!

Roy Kessel is the founder of Sports Philanthropy Network. He has worked in the sports business industry for more than 25 years as a sports lawyer, NFL Agent, and faculty member at Northwestern University. Roy has worked with many athletes and foundations to help them maximize their community impact. (First published on the Ladderworks website on September 15, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.