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USA Fencing Announces 2022-23 Award Winners of the Fencing the Gap Initiative

05/15/2023, 11:45am CDT
By Nicole Kirk

Fencing the Gap is an initiative, which launched this season to help increase access and inclusion to grow the sport of fencing through a series of scholarships, mini-grants and incentive programs.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Fencing is proud to announce the 2022-23 award winners for our Fencing the Gap initiative, which launched this season to help increase access and inclusion to grow the sport of fencing through a series of scholarships, mini-grants and incentive programs. 

All our awardees for the 20222-23 season exemplify the values and commitment of USA Fencing to increase access, belonging and inclusion in our sport. These awardees are barrier breakers in their respective communities. Thanks to the support of our partner, All Kids Play, we were able to double our impact through the program. The awardees will provide final reports that can serve as encouragement and roadmaps for clubs to implement in their own communities. 

Shannon Jolly, USA Fencing’s senior manager of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, celebrated the awardees and their impact.  

“These awardees are proof that USA Fencing is committed to doing this work,” he says. “All clubs play a vital role in creating access and inclusion to grow our sport. Together, we rise!” 

Here are the recipients: 

Coaches Clinic Mini-Grantee: Long Island Fencers’ Club 

The Coaches Clinic Mini-Grantee for the 2022-23 season is the Long Island Fencer’s Club. This grant will support the club’s “student coach program.” The program intentionally recruits young fencers from diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of fencing coaches. Presently the student fencing coaches are made up of a diverse group of individuals, such as BIPOC, first generation college students, and those experiencing financial hardships. 

Community Impact Mini-Grant Recipients 

Six fencing organizations from all over the country were awarded the Community Impact Mini-Grant. The awardees are:  

The Bozeman Fencing Association will be using the Fencing the Gap grant to expand fencing to underserved rural communities in Montana. Through a four-stage program they will amplify their reach through the state. They are going to offer introductory experiential fencing experiences, have workshops, advanced fencing camps, and then train those going through the classes to instruct the next group of participants. Through this process, they are projected to expand from 50 kids to about 150 in rural Montana. 

Flint Academy (Flint, Mich.) will launch their own fencing club to provide instruction and opportunities for deep study, enjoyment, and competition for students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to access the sport. Flint Academy is committed to fostering a learning environment that is inclusive for children with learning differences. Their recess and extracurricular student offerings are designed to meet students where they are and help them achieve excellence in sports, physical activities, and games. Flint Academy’s research supports fencing as a sport that students with learning differences enjoy, persist in, and excel at. 

The Long Island Fencer’s Club is securing funding for their American Sign Language Fencing Classes, “Shine the Light.” This initiative provides children with hearing loss the opportunity to explore the Olympic Sport of Fencing. The “Shine the Light” brand was selected to highlight the abilities of people with hearing loss rather than their challenges. This class will impact up to 20 students with hearing loss. 

PISTE (Prescod Institute for Sport, Teamwork and Education) (Brooklyn, N.Y.) aims to provide students with an opportunity to develop the character that will allow them to become leaders through the sport of fencing. Their mission is to introduce under-resourced youth to the martial art, reinforcing its core principles of discipline, strategic thinking, problem-solving, fitness, and leadership. PISTE offers their program at no required cost to families. Fencing the Gap will help cover coaching and equipment expenses for their students. PISTE will continue to engage and develop the next generation of BIPOC youth from the Brooklyn community. 

Rosalyn Yalow Charter’s (Bronx, N.Y.) recruitment efforts target at-risk students—economically disadvantaged students from high-needs neighborhoods in the Bronx, students with disabilities, and English language learner's students. Fencing the Gap will allow them to continue engaging their 450-plus students with fencing. 

Sheridan Fencing Foundation (New York, N.Y.) has launched the "Fencing for Social Cohesion and Inclusion” program. This program, which will be run entirely by youth fencers, will provide free fencing classes to refugee communities of middle and high school students. The Sunday classes offered include games, drills, open-bouting, and a healthy snack. One of the goals is to create and develop an inclusive fencing program specifically targeting minority youth in New York City with an aim to fulfill USA Fencing’s mission to foster and celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in all our communities. 

Fencing the Gap Scholarships 
USA Fencing also awarded individual scholarships through the Fencing the Gap initiative. The recipients of the scholarships are listed below: 

Julia Dinar, PISTE 

Chloe Fana, Rockland Fencer's Club 

Julio Goitia, Center for Global Studies 

Juan F. Atehortua Paredes, MIT  

Claire St. Jean, PISTE 

Alexander Toussaint, International Fencing Club 

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