Allyson Felix has received a grant from Melinda French Gates.

Felix, who retired from the world of Olympic track and field in 2022, has a passion for the well-being of pregnant women. For example, her footwear brand Saysh gives expectant mothers a free pair of shoes since their feet change sizes throughout pregnancy, as AFROTECH™ previously reported.

“As we thoughtfully create our products, we think about all the ways that we can better support women through our maternity returns policy, offering women shoes once their feet changed sizes due to pregnancy, and just trying to push the industry in that direction,” she told AFROTECH™ at the time.

In June 2022, Felix partnered with Pampers to champion maternal health for Black mothers. Pampers committed $250,000 to the cause and provided $100,000 to the National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC) to help Black mothers receive quality care and to reduce maternal mortality rates.

Felix is, once again, teaming up with Pampers during the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France, to ensure a nursery is available for Olympic moms.

“I just knew how difficult it was to compete at the top level after I had my daughter, and some practical things were really hard and so when I came on the Athletes Commission of the IOC [International Olympics Committee], I really wanted to be that voice for athlete moms and just take away one less thing for them to worry about in the pressure of competition,” she explained during an interview with “CBS Mornings.” “This space is a place where they can have play time and feed their babies and get away from a lot of the noise that happens at the Olympic Games.”

To embolden the efforts of Felix’s footprint on Black maternal health, Melinda French Gates donated $20 million to the former athlete as part of a $1 billion commitment to support people and organizations that provide for women and families, per The New York Times. Gates’ philanthropy will be under a new venture named Pivotal as she announced she will depart from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation after nearly 25 years “to open a new chapter in my philanthropy.”
“Only about 2 percent of charitable giving in the United States goes to organizations focused on women and girls, and only about half a percentage point goes to organizations focused on women of color specifically,” Gates wrote in The New York Times piece. “When we allow this cause to go so chronically underfunded, we all pay the cost. As shocking as it is to contemplate, my 1-year-old granddaughter may grow up with fewer rights than I had. Over the past few weeks, as part of the $1 billion in new funding I’m committing to these efforts, I have begun directing new grants through my organization, Pivotal, to groups working in the United States to protect the rights of women and advance their power and influence.”
Felix described feeling “humbled” for being selected and revealed her plans with the donation.
“I’m looking forward to deploying this money to organizations that are doing urgent work in the space and that will really get it to members of the community who are most at risk for complications,” she expressed to “CBS Mornings.” “I mean even death during pregnancy, and I’m so humbled to receive it and I’m excited to put the money to good work.”
In addition to Felix, 11 individuals were selected to receive a $20 million grant, including Jacinda Ardern, the former prime minister of New Zealand, and Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan educator empowering girls.