kids inside a gym with a basketball
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Communities, especially majority-minority communities, face unparalleled challenges when it comes to accessing affordable and equitable healthcare. And much of that journey to better health needs to happen outside the four walls of a doctor’s office. 

By joining forces with Washington, D.C. sports teams like the Wizards, Mystics, Nationals, Capitals, Spirit and D.C. United, organizations have the ability to harness their resources to influence the unique health outcomes in their areas, such as food insecurity, lack of transportation, accessing mental health resources, job stability and more. 

Seeking out partnerships, not just sponsorships, where we, as organizations, can support fans’ experience in the stadium, while helping them better connect with the community, long after the game has ended, should be a standard. But it’s up to us to ask – “How can we make this partnership about more than the game?”

Sports are a great connector. At their core, they provide the highest level of fitness and community building combined, as well as mental, emotional and social health benefits. Placing a healthcare company’s community impact initiatives at the heart of this work by turning relationships with local sports teams into powerful partnerships to help improve health outcomes for city residents. 

Last Spring, we launched a partnership with the Washington Spirit at the Excel Academy in Washington, D.C., an all-girls public school in Ward 8, which focuses on academic achievement, and self-esteem, empowering students to make positive, ethical choices.

The partnership continues to create better health and equity for communities in D.C., addressing topics such as the importance of safety and preventive care, the role of youth sports in developing future community leaders and more.

Programs like DC SCORES, the District’s only public soccer leagues for elementary and middle school youth, are core to this goal. Coaches are, by and large, employees of the schools where we run programming, creating direct access for students to have a trusted mentor outside of school. 

Students participate in poetry and spoken word events as well as learn about creative writing and performance art. Using teamwork skills built on the field, students develop a plan to address an issue affecting their school or community, and enact that plan by building awareness, raising funds and completing service-based projects.

After a 12-week DC SCORES season, 93% of students improved their aerobic capacity, 95% discovered something they’re good at, and 99% were confident they would graduate high school.

We had similar results at Brightwood Elementary School in Petworth, where we partnered with D.C. United to host two STEAM camps. In postseason surveys, 98% of Brightwood poet-athletes reported feeling more confident about themselves, 95% reported caring more about school, and 99% reported caring about their teammates.

While playing soccer and learning about sports, art, service and wellness, these kids are given the skills and opportunities to succeed on and off the field—in sports, in school, and in life.

Earlier this year, we celebrated a successful growing season with D.C. Greens and The Well at Oxon Run, a resident-run initiative by the community for the community. 

In collaboration with the Washington Nationals and Building Bridges Across the River, we completed our first growing season in the “Giving Garden,” a 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden inside Nationals Park. The garden produced 600 pounds of produce this season, which is approximately $10,000 worth of produce, for residents in the District’s Wards 7 and 8 this year.

Barriers to affordable, accessible and equitable care are found right in D.C. residents’ backyards—but so are solutions. Our shared progress would not be possible without our partnerships with hundreds of community organizations and the thousands of people behind them.

Together, we can make a positive impact in sports and in health equity.


This column was contributed by Lester Davis, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s (CareFirst) Vice President and Chief of Staff to the CEO.

To learn more about CareFirst’s work with DC United, the Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics, Washington Nationals, Washington Spirit, and Washington Wizards in the community, visit

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