Philanthropy Friday: GO! Athletes

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: GO! Athletes, a support network of current and former LGBTQ collegiate and high school student athletes that works to create safe spaces in the athletic community through visibility, education, and advocacy.

Nora Cothren is a member of GO! Athletes Board of Directors.

Nora Cothren is a member of GO! Athletes Board of Directors.

Who are you? My name is Nora Cothren, and I am a member of the GO! Athletes Board of Directors.

When was GO! Athletes founded? In January 2008, when seven current and former LGBTQ athletes came together to discuss the different issues and challenges LGBTQ student-athletes faced and ways they could help eliminate anti-LGBTQ bias within athletics. We believed we could support one another and help [athletes] feel empowered to come out by creating a space and network where former and current student athletes could access existing resources for LGBTQ athletes, as well as safely and easily communicate with other LGBTQ athletes.

How has that mission manifested itself? Since 2008, we have traveled across the country, spoken on panels, hosted events, and formed a network of dedicated advocates, partners, and an all-star advisory team. GO! Athletes continues to grow each day as we meet more LGBTQ athletes, hear their stories, and offer a place where student-athletes, former or current, can fearlessly take part in a growing community of like-minded individuals.

What is GO! Athletes shining moment, to date? We are most proud of being the organization that LGBTQ student-athletes can see themselves in. Empowering young athletes is at the core of our mission, and everytime a new athlete contacts us for support, or to get more involved, is a shining moment in itself.

If a check for $1 million found its way to our doorstep … We would invest in programming. GO! Athletes has several educational programs, including ally development, supporting LGBTQ student athletes, and story-sharing panels, which we would love to take to colleges and high schools across the nation. We are 100 percent volunteer run, and our staff do this as a passion project. It would be great to have the money to share our stories and programming with others who need it in a way that’s financially sustainable.

Training of the Trainers

A group of GO! Athletes members at an LGBT Sports Coalition “Training of the Trainers” workshop in Denver, Colorado.

Have any special events coming up? We are sending a group to the annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Oregon next month. As an organizational member of the LGBT Sports Coalition, GO! Athletes works with other organizations and individual members in the Coalition to help end homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in sports.

Are there ways I can help GO! Athletes without giving money? Become a mentor! We are in the process of finalizing our new mentorship program, which is to be piloted in Philadelphia late this summer. We are looking for mentors to connect with current LGBTQ athletes in high school and college. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest ways to get involved.

I don’t have that much time. Can I give you money and call it a day? We are currently fundraising to be able to support a diverse group of members in attending the LGBT Sports Summit this June. Any donation amount will make a difference, and can be made through our site. If interested in making a general donation, you can contact Josh Saunders at