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Beyond Sport, Z Zurich Foundation & Zurich North America Collaborate on Youth Mental Health

MAY 4, 2023


- “Head in the Game” aims to positively impact hundreds of thousands of youth through a multimillion-dollar investment from the Z Zurich Foundation

- The initiative will provide Beyond Sport-facilitated programming to support those who have less access to mental health resources, with a special focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities in California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York

New York, NY – With youth mental wellbeing at crisis levels, global sport for social change foundation Beyond Sport is collaborating with Z Zurich Foundation (the Foundation) and Zurich North America (Zurich) on a multi-year program to leverage sport to improve mental wellbeing for 13 to 19-year-olds in the United States. "Head in the Game” (HITG), the new three-year, multimillion-dollar program, will use a whole-system approach to bring together the US sports sector – community, collegiate and professional – on youth mental health, build a targeted Learning Community to engage at neighborhood, city and state levels and provide resources and training concentrating on prevention, promotion, and attitudinal change.

Recent studies have shown that while young people are increasingly struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, they are not receiving the support they need to address these challenges. The HITG collaboration was developed to address this alarming trend. Leveraging Beyond Sport’s extensive experience in leading sports initiatives that target complex social issues, as well as the Foundation and Zurich’s long running investment in public mental health services for young people, HITG will roll out over the next six months concentrating on California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York.

The program will have a special focus on those who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and/or as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and others (LGBTQ+) because, while mental health challenges exist for all youth, these communities have been shown to be among the most vulnerable. Girls have also been highlighted as an especially impacted group in a recent CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The four states were selected based on U.S. Census data showing that while the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ populations living in cities in these states have grown significantly over the last 10 years, youth mental wellbeing resources have not grown at pace to meet their needs. 

“Sport’s positive impact on mental health as both a tool and an outlet has been well proven. With the US declaring youth mental health a national emergency, this significant new investment and collaboration with Z Zurich Foundation and Zurich North America will allow Beyond Sport and our partners to provide timely resources and programming to young people and the coaches who support them in undertreated communities,” said Fred Turner, Executive Director of Beyond Sport.

Head in the Game, a program of Beyond Sport powered by Z Zurich Foundation and Zurich North America, will employ a community level systems change approach to destigmatize mental health issues and build knowledge and resilience among young people. Inclusive of a grant and capacity building program, a multimedia awareness campaign co-created with Beyond Sport sister company, thinkBeyond, and a targeted Learning Community, interventions will be tailored to the specific needs and challenges of each community.

“The Head in the Game program harnesses the power of sport to deploy a system-level change approach for youth mental wellbeing in the US. We will leverage the transformative and destigmatizing power of sport to change attitudes and behavior toward youth mental wellbeing driving sustainable impact from the ground-up,” stated Sofyen Khalfaoui, Z Zurich Foundation Improving Mental Wellbeing Program Lead.

“Sports can have such a positive impact on youth in terms of building confidence and resilience, and this collaboration will use the power of sports to heighten awareness of and promote resources addressing mental health challenges facing our young people,” said Vince Santivasi, Head of Direct Markets and Wellbeing Executive Sponsor at Zurich North America.

As part of the grant and capacity building pillar, Beyond Sport will provide a diverse range of youth sport providers with funds and programming targeting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. More than 2,300 athletic coaches at non-profit and elite organizations will be trained on coaching through a mental wellbeing-lens to better be able to recognize and address mental health issues among youth. The training will be run by facilitators with expertise in healing-centered and sports-based therapeutic methodologies. Launching in the Fall, the awareness campaign will provide robust, sports-aligned tools and resources to help youth gain confidence in talking about mental health to adopt a proactive mindset on protecting their wellbeing. The program also seeks to increase awareness and understanding among parents and caregivers.

Using the transformative nature of sport, Head in the Game aims to positively impact youth and drive sustainable systemic change from the ground up, keeping intersectionality firmly at its core. 

Eligible coaches can register for free training sessions led by the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport and Doc Wayne. Click here to learn more and register by September 8. For more information, email [email protected].



Beyond Sport: Karen Asare - [email protected] 

Z Zurich Foundation: Manon Parmentier - [email protected]

Zurich North America: Clare Fitzgerald - [email protected]


Beyond Sport invests in organizations, programs and networks that use sport to positively impact communities. Believing that when used with intention, sport provides a powerful pathway to effective solutions addressing complex societal issues, the foundation employs a unique and holistic approach that leverages a global network of sport for social change innovators, progressive organizations and expertise built up over nearly two decades. Since 2008, Beyond Sport has provided approximately $9.1M in grants to 301 projects across 66 countries.


At the Z Zurich Foundation, we believe in a world where young people have the tools and resources to improve their mental wellbeing. Throughout the various projects we support, we aim to create a mental wellbeing movement that is helping young people see their feelings for what they are, so they can prevent stress from developing into anxiety. 

The Z Zurich Foundation is a Swiss-based charitable foundation established by members of the Zurich Insurance Group. It is the main vehicle by which Zurich Insurance Group delivers on its global community investment strategy. Visit the Z Zurich Foundation’s website to learn more about its work: Follow Z Zurich Foundation on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Zurich North America is one of the largest providers of insurance solutions and services to businesses and individuals. Our customers represent industries ranging from agriculture to technology. Zurich North America is part of Zurich Insurance Group, a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. Read more at


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