By Audrey Kemp | Junior reporter

March 8, 2023 | 5 min read

‘A fair shot’ represents H&R Block’s effort to even the score between female and male athletics.

Nineteen months after the National Collegiate Athletic Association permitted college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL), tax preparation brand H&R Block seeks to level the playing field for those continually sidelined: women.

Launching on International Women’s Day, H&R Block’s ‘A fair shot’ program sponsors female players from a broad range of sports – including basketball, soccer, ice hockey and gymnastics. Now in its second year, the program helps them navigate the unique tax implications of NIL – a law that helps college athletes profit from their name age and likeness.

“When [this law] rolled out, we knew there were going to be thousands of athletes who wouldn’t understand the full tax consequence of their new income, and we felt we had the opportunity, and obligation, to help these new income earners,” says Jill Cress, chief marketing and experience officer at H&R Block.

Last year, ’A fair shot’ supported 18 female athletes, but this year, the number of female athletes is more than doubling to 50. It’s also expanding beyond D1 colleges to include D2 and D3 schools – both tending to have lower budgets – and historically black colleges and universities for the first time.

The initiative was created in response to a financial disparity among women athletes. Since NIL went into effect, female athletes have received about 23% of the total sponsorship opportunities, according to Opendorse.

“[We have] a chance to help solve this societal inequity [and] a chance to help female college athletes receiving fewer sponsorship opportunities – which translates to less compensation,” says Cress. “As a woman in business and mother of a daughter, I want to ensure that other women have ‘A fair shot’ in life.”

To create what Cress dubs “a movement” this year, H&R Block is partnering with athletic wear Fabletics and athleisure brand Jambys, as well as engaging college athletes to post supportive content across various social platforms.

Cress says H&R Block will provide online and in-person tax support to the athletes it sponsors through hands-on, practical tax advice for them. By amplifying its stories, the brand aims to reach young college students nationwide.

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“What was really rewarding last year was the impact we had on Gen Z students and the trust they developed with our brand … We want to amplify that relationship and do it in a way that allows us to connect with a new and important audience.”

Ogilvy handled the initiative’s creative and PR.

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