As soccer reigns as the top women’s sport globally, U.S. interest continues to grow. The fervor over the sport along with PNC’s commitment to closing the economic gender gap has played a significant role in the Greater Los Angeles market’s designation as The Official Women’s Business Champion for the Angel City Football Club. 1
The majority women-owned team, part of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), was founded by actor and activist Natalie Portman, entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and venture capitalist Kara Nortman. Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian is the lead investor, and more than 100 other celebrities, athletes and tech industry leaders serve as founding investors. The club’s business model includes a community impact initiative that identifies and implements programs to accelerate women’s financial equality and dedicates additional funding equivalent to 10% of its sponsorship dollars toward equity for diverse groups and education.
Angel City wrapped up its inaugural 2022 season on the heels of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s (USWNT) pay equity victory – a movement Uhrman, the team’s co-founder and president, credits with inspiring the formation of the Angel City team. 2
“We had this idea that we could build a business, a culture and a community reflective of our values, reflective of our city and reflective of what we ultimately wanted – equity,” Uhrman says.
In addition to supporting one of the LA’s favorite pastimes, PNC’s status as The Official Women’s Business Champion for the team aligns with PNC’s decades-long contributions to advocating for the success of women who are financial decision-makers and its more recent Project 257®:Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality initiative.
PNC launched Project 257 after the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report revealed it would take women 257 years to economically catch up to men if progress continued at its current pace.3
“There is a broad spectrum of opportunities to close the economic gender gap, and Angel City’s business model is an example of how women are reimagining paths toward financial equality,” says Beth Marcello, director of women’s business development at PNC. “When these kinds of innovative moves are developed across a greater number of industries, together we should be able to close the gap before two more centuries pass.”
As a part of its partnership with Angel City, PNC’s Organizational Financial Wellness Program conducts financial education workshops with the team’s front-office staff and players while also providing other resources to help the organization and its members thrive.
Members of the organization also have access to dozens of PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates (WBAs) across the Greater Los Angeles market. The WBAs in LA are part of the bank’s coast-to-coast network of more than 4,700 colleagues who are dedicated to supporting the financial success of women, including those who own or lead businesses.
Commitment and Impact
PNC entered the Greater Los Angeles market after the 2021 acquisition of BBVA USA and began doing business there using its national main street banking approach.
“Being new to this market, we want to make sure we are involved in the Greater LA community in impactful ways, and the sponsorship with Angel City aligns with so many of PNC’s commitments that it was just a perfect fit,” says Todd Wilson, PNC regional president for Greater Los Angeles.
LA sits at the top of the list for best U.S. cities for soccer fans, and Wilson believes the sponsorship offers PNC the opportunity to leverage heavy local interest in the sport to further awareness about the importance of gender financial equity.4
A Fund for Future Off Field
PNC also helped Angel City launch its Player 22 Future Program to prepare players for life after playing on the field. Retired players may apply for grants that help them continue their careers in sports – whether as a commentator, analyst, coach, general manager or president of a team.
“We've experienced the benefit of having former U.S. and international team players as owners of Angel City,” says Uhrman, “and we want to make sure we can get more former players back into the sport that they helped to build.”
The club needed $100,000 to launch the Player 22 program. By midyear in 2022, just a few months into fundraising, they were almost at the goal, and that’s when PNC stepped in to close the gap.
“That wasn’t even part of our sponsorship agreement, but Lou Cestello, head of regional markets at PNC, looked at me and reiterated that this is a partnership, and what is important to Angel City is important to PNC,” Uhrman recalls. “I think that is such an unbelievable example of how PNC goes the extra mile.”
PNC and Angel City are now expanding the concept of the Player 22 program in a greater way. Ten percent of the bank’s Angel City sponsorship will be reallocated to a new grant program that is available to players who aspire to launch or build their own social enterprises and businesses once they retire. Angel City forward Jasmyne Spencer is one of those players who could benefit from the program. Spencer has already started preparing for life after soccer with the launch of her sustainable lifestyle brand, Jas It Up.
“I think this is the first time you can see a team use their platform to its full potential to push toward financial equality and future stability for its athletes,” Spencer says. “It is really gratifying to know that you represent something bigger than the sport by being a part of this team.” Spencer says.