Brands Affecting Change: How Nike's Movement Has 16 Million Kids "Moving"

Brands Affecting Change: How Nike's Movement Has 16 Million Kids "Moving"

4 minute read time

Nike made to play

As if the iconic sportswear brand hasn’t made their mark on the world with state of the art footwear and active apparel, Nike has taken their legacy a step further. 16 million: that is the number of kids impacted by Nike’s mission to promote a healthier future.

“We know kids who move are the ones who move the world–in the classroom, their careers and in the community,” Nike proclaims, and this philosophy is the foundation of their efforts to increase the number of children worldwide who participate in sports and lead a healthy, active lifestyle. 

Nike’s Mission: “Made to Play”

Nike’s position is simple: kids are “made to play.” The problem is, they’re not doing it.

“8 out of 10 kids don’t get enough exercise.” –Nike 

It may not come as a surprise that kids today are the least active generation. With technology advances, entertainment for youth has shifted in ways that are startlingly detrimental. Children once played outdoors or participated in sports–now they are more likely to spend time inside watching tv or playing video games. Since 1975, children’s aerobic fitness and endurance has dropped by 5%. This drop translates to a 1 mile run that is 90 seconds longer.

As reported by Nike, 8 out of 10 kids worldwide don’t receive enough exercise. Girls experience an even higher risk–they drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by the time they are 14. This stereotype–that sport is for boys–is damaging to young girls, who should feel empowered to reap the benefits of play. 

Nike is not alone in its concern for inactive youth, however–the World Health Organization (WHO), reported that 78% of boys and 85% of girls do not meet the minimum recommendation for physical activity, which is just one hour per day.

A Way to “Move The Needle”

The consequences of a decrease in play can add up: we may be raising a generation that, for the first time in history, could have a shorter lifespan than their parents and bear the burden of more health related issues.

According to Nike, “active kids have increased concentration, better school attendance and a stronger sense of self than inactive kids. On average they score up to 40% higher on tests and are 15% more likely to go to college.” If this is true, the situation could be dire. Not only is health at stake, but perhaps ambition and innovation–qualities we all hope our children will possess–stand to suffer. 

If there’s a way to “move the needle” as Nike suggests, they have likely nailed it with their impact programs. Getting 16 million kids to “move” is no easy task, yet it is happening worldwide. This number will continue to grow as long as Nike receives the community-level support they so appreciate and value as an integral part of their mission. 


Nike made to play
Nike's "Made to Play" Community Impact

Nike’s Impact Programs for Youth

Nike’s impact has taken on several forms, from volunteer ambassadors and youth programs to school and community funding, including equipment donations, and has involved more than 60 organizations around the world.


Nike employees are volunteering in their communities and local schools to coach children in sports and physical activity. Over 5,700 volunteer ambassadors are positively inspiring kids to reach their full potential through discovering a love for movement. 

Impact Fund

The Nike Community Impact Fund has awarded more than 4.5 million in grants for schools and community organizations. Since its 2010 inception in Oregon, the fund has reached communities across the US such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Portland, and Washington D.C., as well as worldwide in Barcelona, Belgium, Milan, and the Netherlands.

Grant partners and employee volunteers come together yearly to decide on where the organization's funds should be allocated, ensuring the most impactful local programs are receiving the support they need to continue promoting youth activity. 

School Innovation Fund

Nike isn’t exclusively concerned about kid’s physical activity–kids should also be adequately prepared for an active life in adulthood, including involvement in their communities and in careers that give back to the world.

As a result, an additional 5.95 million in grants has been allocated to Oregon schools for the purpose of increasing graduation rates and preparing students for college and careers. Teacher training, leadership development, and the creation of curriculum materials is supported in middle and high schools across Oregon as a direct result of the School Innovation Fund.  

N7 Program

A program focused on Native Americans and Aboriginal youth, Nike’s N7 grants aid indigenous sport. Examples of programs N7 has funded include the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, various health and recreation councils, and Intertribal sports teams.  

Nike impact funds

Giving The Gift of Sport

Funding and volunteering are not the only aspects of Nike’s impact mission: Nike brings the opportunity to play to kids everywhere by donating sports equipment and apparel.

Partnering with Goodsports and Good360, Nike provides children in need with new athletic equipment, clothing, and footwear. The items donated to schools, youth programs, and charities encourage the continuation of play for economically disadvantaged youth who might otherwise be unable to participate. 

As Nike states, its initiatives are centered around “leveling the playing field,” and increasing the number of kids involved in sport and activity, despite barriers and lack of opportunity.

The Power of Movement

Nike is hitting inactivity at its root–the community level. While the power of grassroots organizations cannot be denied–and Nike acknowledges this fact–their impact is exponentially increased when backed by the funds and resources a company like Nike can provide. Local organizations seeking support to carry out their youth programs can apply for grants, and Nike encourages individuals to get involved in the movement by providing opportunities to volunteer. 

Play isn’t just for kids–your employees can benefit from the power of movement as well. When you purchase quality Nike apparel, not only are you promoting fitness for your team–your support goes to kids around the world. 


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“What We Do.” Nike Social & Community Impact, Nike,

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