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Nike Foundation The Nike Foundation leverages the power of insights, innovation and inspiration to stop the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a company, Nike believes in the power of human potential. At the Nike Foundation, we invest exclusively in what we see as the greatest source of untapped human potential in the world today: adolescent girls




As a company, Nike believes in the power of human potential. At the Nike Foundation, we invest in the greatest unrealized source of human potential in the world today: adolescent girls.

In the three minutes it takes to read this, 81 adolescent girls will become child brides, and 96 adolescent girls will give birth. Two of those girls will likely die from complications in childbirth.

The reality is harsh, but we don’t see the 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty today as victims of circumstance. We believe they can play a crucial role in solving the toughest problems facing the world. Because when a girl living in poverty has the chance to reach her full potential, she isn’t the only one who escapes the circumstances she was born into. She brings her family, community and country with her. We call this the Girl Effect.


In the 1990s, research from the Population Council and International Center for Research on Women began to show that when an adolescent girl in poverty is able to stay in school, delay marriage and delay having children, not only do her life chances radically change, but the children she will later have are far more likely to be healthy and educated.

The data available today is compelling. With nearly four million new adolescent mothers every year, India loses $383 billion in potential lifetime income. If Ethiopian girls completed high school, the economy would gain $6.8 billion over their lifetimes. If young Nigerian women had the same employment rates as young men, the country would add $13.9 billion to its economy every year. Investing in girls is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.

By investing more in girls, governments and international organizations could break the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next. But these incredible research findings have not led the huge change in funding for girls you might expect. Instead, millions of girls around the world continue to face early marriage, pregnancy and a lack of access to school.

In this gap between the status quo and the potential to change the world for girls and the people around them, Maria Eitel, founding President and CEO of the Nike Foundation, saw an immense opportunity to create a positive impact at a global scale.


Nike has always been a company focused on human potential. Co-founder and track coach Bill Bowerman was a relentless innovator, obsessed with giving athletes the training and equipment they needed to maximize their performance. At the Nike Foundation, Maria Eitel took the bold decision to apply this philosophy to perhaps the world’s most isolated and marginalized people: the 250 million adolescent girls living in extreme poverty.

When the Nike Foundation started in 2004, we sought the best investment to end global poverty with the highest returns. We traced poverty back to its roots. Investing in adolescent girls was the unexpected solution to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and unleash the unlimited potential of adolescent girls on the world. In short, we can stop poverty before it starts by getting to the mother of every child that will be born into poverty before that first child is born.

That’s why, in 2008, the Nike Foundation partnered with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls to create the Girl Effect.


The Girl Effect is a concept that was initially created to illustrate the extraordinary potential of adolescent girls. Launched with a short film that caught the attention of global leaders at the 2009 World Economic Forum, the Girl Effect has since evolved into a global movement of supporters who believe girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet.

From the halls of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and the African Union to the stage of the Clinton Global Initiative and beyond, we have partnered with some of the most respected organizations and leaders in the development community to unleash the potential of adolescent girls.


The Nike Foundation’s own investments have directly helped more than 500,000 girls around the world to fulfill their potential, providing grants to more than 100 organizations in more than 80 countries over nine years — including: giving girls in Nigeria the chance to stay in school; helping girls in India to claim equal rights to inherit and own land; and giving girls across Rwanda critical health information and mentoring.

Through Girl Hub, our strategic collaboration with the U.K. Department for International Development, we work in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria to put the Girl Effect into action. By engaging girls as active participants, everything we do – from branded social communications to national advocacy and creating robust data – is built on what girls tell us they need and what they tell us will work for them.

Globally, we work to put girls at the center of international development, and innovate to find new ways of supporting girls. The Girl Declaration is both a campaign and a call-to-action to put girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. We worked with 25 of the world’s leading development organizations and more than 500 girls in 14 countries to create a rallying cry for world leaders. Already backed by the UN Secretary General, the Girl Declaration has brought the international community together around a common agenda for adolescent girls.

From the start, the goal was simple: Get girls on the global agenda and drive massive resources to them. In 10 years, we’ve spent thousands of hours with girls across the world, gaining insights for investments. Together with partners, the Nike Foundation helped inspire a movement – repositioning the issues of girls from a secondary consideration to one of the most powerful economic, political and social opportunities today.


Early on, the Nike Foundation issued requests for proposals to fill gaps in investment, based on learnings from partners and other experts. Frequently these involved seed grants or investments to replicate promising programs. Those investments helped provide an understanding of the greatest opportunities for girls.

Our current investments support large-scale initiatives to transform girls’ environments. The Nike Foundation works closely with a wide network of partners and collaborators to identify organizations with the capacity to bring about massive change for girls.

The Nike Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.



Women, Girls

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providing funding for these regions

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  • Global