Washington NIL collective launches ‘Women’s Fund’ on International Women’s Day

On3 imageby:Jeremy Crabtree03/08/23


Washington-focused NIL collective Montlake Futures announced Wednesday it’s launching a new “Women’s Fund” that focuses on creating opportunities for UW’s female student-athletes.

Founded in February 2022, Montlake Futures helps 501(c)(3) organizations work with Washington student-athletes to “promote, fundraise and support their missions.” Montlake Futures pairs athletes with nonprofit organizations, and each pairing feature hours, promotions and NIL rights that the nonprofit can apply at its discretion. 

The new “Women’s Fund” focuses on enabling Washington female student-athletes to benefit from one of the collective’s partners through NIL.

It’s only fitting the new fund was launched on Wednesday. March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day also focuses on increasing visibility for women and calling out inequality.

It’s also fitting that Montlake Futures is pushing for more support of Washington female student-athletes. The Huskies have been dominant in a number of women’s sports, including winning national championships in rowing, volleyball, golf, cross country and softball and reaching the Elite Eight in basketball multiple times. The Huskies’ women’s track and field team and gymnastics squad are also nationally ranked and have produced individual national title winners. There are 11 varsity women’s sports at Washington, including beach volleyball, soccer and tennis.

“UW female student-athletes have much to give when it comes to leveraging their NIL for charitable causes,” Montlake executive director and GM Emmy Armintrout told On3. “We created this initiative to help educate our donor base that NIL can have a positive impact in our community, and is an important area of support for women’s sports programs.

“We hope the Women’s Fund allows us to do more work with UW female student-athletes that benefits our nonprofit partners.”

Montlake Futures successful since its inception

Montlake Futures got out of the gate successfully in its first 13 months of operations, including a number of headline-grabbing NIL deals with members of the Huskies’ football team and Seattle area nonprofits.

One such deal came earlier this month, when Montlake partnered six football players with Big Climb Seattle. The event is an annual hike up the Columbia Tower’s 69 flights, which supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‘s mission to fund blood cancer research. Offensive lineman Geirean Hatchett alone helped generate more than $450 in donations.

But Montlake also has been supportive of female student-athletes, including the promotion of a deal between the beach volleyball roster and Verve Bowls; an agreement between 10 UW volleyball players and local Mexican restaurant El Camion; and the Huskies’ women’s basketball team’s support of the Seattle Humane Society. The collective has helped Washington female student-athletes host softball and soccer camps for the Boys and Girls club. They’ve also helped do deals with a number of local restaurants as part of its “Eats Here” program.

NIL experts say a fund fully focused on supporting female student-athletes could greatly expand opportunities at Washington.

Recently, there have been mounting questions about how supportive collectives across the country have been for female student-athletes. Only 34% of collectives benefit women’s sports, according to NIL marketplace Opendorse. Plus, some experts recently told the San Francisco Chronicle the NCAA’s difficulty to regulate collectives because of their third-party status potentially enables violations of Title IX. 

That’s why the move by Montlake should be applauded. Montlake says donations to the Women’s Fund are tax-deductible. Donors can even specify a specific women’s sport of their choosing.

State of NIL collectives at Washington

There are two known Huskies-focused collectives in the Washington market.

Along with Montlake Futures, the 1861 NIL Foundation was launched in January. Catherine Clark, a former swimmer at the school, founded the collective and will serve as executive director. Four former Huskies football players sit on the Board of Directors: Steve Emtman, Mario Bailey, Will Dissly and Lawyer Milloy. Like Montlake, 1861 says it’s registered as a nonprofit organization.