The NFL today announced that social justice contributions from the NFL Family have surpassed $300 million, all in support of the league's Inspire Change initiative. This milestone comes as 15 grant partnerships were renewed by the NFL and the Players Coalition to drive further progress in police-community relations, criminal justice reform, education, and economic advancement.
"Players Coalition and the NFL have collaborated over the past five years through Inspire Change grants to help drive direct impact by supporting organizations at the frontlines of social justice and racial equity work," said Anquan Boldin, co-founder of Players Coalition. "While the work is far from over, we look forward to advancing aligned partnerships with grant recipients and building on our continued partnership with the NFL to address priority social justice issues."
"The NFL Family is proud to have contributed more than $300 million to support social justice efforts in communities across the country, but our work is far from over," said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility. "The positive impact of this work is being felt every day, and we are committed to continuing our efforts with players, clubs, and our Inspire Change grant partners to break down barriers to opportunity and end systemic racism."
Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is one organization that's using funds from their Inspire Change grant to make a difference -- helping to free 13 over-sentenced individuals, like Lee Davis Jr., from the prison system. To see the impact that Inspire Change has had on organizations like Alabama Appleseed, watch the video HERE.
"There was no reason for the NFL to care about what was happening in Alabama except that they legitimately wanted to help solve problems," said Carla Crowder, Executive Director of Alabama Appleseed. "The NFL gave us not only resources to hire more people, but a national platform to lift up the crisis around prisons, excessive punishment, and the human rights of incarcerated Alabamians."
The 15 renewed grants were recently approved by the Player-Owner Social Justice Committee, comprised of a 10-member panel of players, Legends, and team owners. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations creating measurable change across the four pillars of Inspire Change.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) will enrich the quality and continue to expand the reach of its mentoring programs and their impact on youth by enhancing and innovating program opportunities and increasing mentor recruitment. Key focus areas include supporting youth with incarcerated family members, critical localized programming, and recruiting more men of color to volunteer as mentors through the Big Draft and other partner engagement opportunities.
"We're thrilled to continue our partnership with NFL Inspire Change and reach more young people nationwide through the transformative power of mentorship. This renewal represents a milestone, a testament to an impactful partnership that strengthens communities, breaks down barriers, and empowers young people to achieve their full potential," said Artis Stevens, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. "Together, we will build on our shared vision of creating a more equitable future for all young people, with mentorship experiences that last a lifetime."
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) will enhance its Think, Learn, Create Change (TLC) resources, activities and engagement opportunities for young people at Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation. These programs will provide kids and teens with high-quality social justice, leadership and advocacy experiences, while expanding youth-led content on digital platforms and equipping young people to participate in impactful social justice conversations around racial equality, community violence, voting rights, etc.
"Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe places, caring mentors, and life-enhancing programs for young people to find their voice, express themselves and enact positive change in their community," said Jim Clark, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "Thanks to the ongoing support from the NFL Foundation through their Inspire Change initiative, even more kids and teens across the nation will have access to social justice resources through the Think, Learn, Create Change model, empowering the future leaders of tomorrow."
- City Year helps students and schools succeed while preparing the next generation of civically engaged leaders who can work across lines of difference. With the goal of recruiting diverse young adults by making national service opportunities more accessible, City Year will raise awareness about the benefits of service and increase living stipends for City Year AmeriCorps members. The organization also is enhancing coaching and professional development services for City Year AmeriCorps members to help them make the most of their service experience and position themselves for their career path or education after service.
"City Year and the NFL share a deep belief in the importance of social justice and reducing barriers to education and economic advancement," said Jim Balfanz, CEO of City Year. "We are deeply grateful for this NFL Inspire Change grant to expand access to service leadership and career opportunities for young people of color and ensure more students in systemically under-resourced schools reach their full potential."
- Get Schooled uses digital programming to help underserved youth access first-time jobs and college while providing the resources to succeed. Existing Inspire Change grant partners who work specifically with college-aged youth will have the opportunity to partner with Get Schooled to bring their digital content and programming to those communities.
"Get Schooled is incredibly grateful for the NFL's Social Justice Initiative's support," said John Branam, Executive Director for Get Schooled. "By supporting our work, the NFL is helping to ensure Black and Brown youth across America have access to the information and personalized support they need to continue their education after high school, succeed in college, and find and succeed in their first jobs and early careers."
- Covenant House will support its education and workforce development programs in the U.S., helping them provide more than 2,000 youth experiencing homelessness with the career and education services they need over the next year as their dedicated staff partner with the resilient youth at Covenant House to help them overcome the systemic challenges they face in obtaining an education and launching a career through coaching, mentoring, tutoring, academic support, college application prep, career exploration, and job readiness and placement services.
"Covenant House is so grateful for this ongoing support from the NFL through their Inspire Change initiative," said Covenant House President & CEO Bill Bedrossian. "The funds will be used to support our workforce development and career training so that our young people at Covenant House working so hard to overcome homelessness will have real opportunities to pursue their dreams and the great promise of their lives. And it is not only funds that the NFL provides. Players from teams all across the country have taken the time to visit with our young people, invite them to games, get to know our young people and walk with them on their individual journeys. It is partnerships like this that truly do inspire change."
- Operation HOPE will continue to remove traditional hurdles to Black entrepreneurship by providing them with the critical tools, resources, and education needed to start — and scale— their ventures. They will focus on deepening and broadening their 1 Million Black Businesses Initiative (1MBB), which offers access to Operation HOPE's award-winning model of community uplift and financial literacy.
"We are honored to be recognized by the NFL as a partner in our collective work advancing social and economic justice," said Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant. "We applaud Commissioner Goodell and the NFL family for their passionate commitment to positive change in the world, particularly through the ongoing efforts of Inspire Change. The support of this grant will enable us to continue our work expanding economic opportunity for all, through our 1 Million Black Business and Financial Literacy for All initiatives."
- Wall Street Bound provides diverse college students with the skills, experience, and social capital needed to access and succeed in financial services careers. The NFL's social justice grant funding will support WSB's work to provide scholars, largely from underserved communities, with finance technical and soft skills training, and social capital via their flagship program, 'Wall Street Direct' and 'Introduction to Wall Street' customized Bootcamps. Their goal is to reach 200 students with programming in 2023, with a job placement goal of 80% or higher.
- Year Up connects young adults, 90% of whom identify as a person of color, to livable wage careers at hundreds of top companies and has shown the highest wage gains of any workforce development program. The NFL's social justice grant funding will support Year Up's mission to close the Opportunity Divide and champion economic justice with its direct service workforce development programming.
"The NFL Foundation's Inspire Change investment in Year Up will support our strategic plan to scale our reach and impact significantly as we continue to close the racial income gap and increase economic mobility for young people across the country," said Ellen McClain, President of Year Up. "Year Up and the NFL Foundation share a deep commitment to racial justice and creating opportunity for traditionally overlooked talent. In partnering with the NFL's Social Justice Initiative over the next three years, we will enable thousands more young people to access meaningful career opportunities at top companies and change what corporate America looks like."
Criminal Justice Reform
- Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop works with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth and adults, using the literary arts, workforce development, trauma healing, and advocacy to create personal and societal change. The grant will support the expansion of FMBC's re-entry programming during a time of increased need.
"Coming home after years of incarceration is hard. I know because I've been there," said Craig Watson, Free Minds Peer Support Specialist. "I served 22 years starting when I was just 17. That's why it means so much to me to support my peers when they're released. We're so grateful to the NFL for helping us expand our reentry programming. With the right support, all of our Free Minds Book Club members can write new chapters in their lives."
- Just City will continue its Clean Slate advocacy, which has sealed the criminal histories of hundreds of people and eliminated statewide barriers to expungement; expand Court Watch to bring more transparency and accountability to local criminal courts; and build out its Public Data Accountability Project.
"We are deeply honored to be included as a grantee of the NFL's Inspire Change initiative for a third year. This funding is a testament of the exemplary work of the entire Just City team and reaffirms our shared commitment to a more equitable and humane criminal legal system. We will use this support to refine and amplify our push for transparency, accountability, and second chances in the justice system through our Clean Slate advocacy, Court Watch, and the Public Data Accountability Project," says Just City Executive Director Josh Spickler.
- Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) will continue its Pathways 4 Equity (P4E) program to break employment barriers for women and improve DE&I hiring practices by connecting formerly incarcerated women to professional fellowships with career advancement opportunities with living-wage salary and benefits.
- The National Urban League will expand its national expungement workshops with justice-impacted individuals and their Urban Re-Entry Program, addressing an expansive list of needs for returning citizens.
- The Center for Policing Equity’s (CPE) North Star is protecting, empowering, and supporting vulnerable communities—particularly Black and Brown communities—to redesign their public safety systems. CPE will continue to provide leaders with data, stories, and relationships to facilitate change that's bold, innovative, and lasting.
"The NFL's Inspire Change team's support is critical in CPE's efforts to reduce police harm in Black and Brown communities," said the Center for Policing Equity. "We all share the responsibility of building a better, more accountable, safer future. Together, we can Inspire Change."
- Metropolitan Family Services will expand its street outreach training programming, including its work to train new and transferring CPD officers each year, educating them with a hyper-local and trauma-informed approach about the history of each community within their respective districts.
"We are thankful for the continued support of the NFL Inspire Change Campaign," said Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director, Metropolitan Peace Initiatives. "This grant funds the Metropolitan Peace Academy street outreach training which builds a civilian infrastructure for public safety and our community policing training with the Chicago Police Department. Like the NFL, we believe we all play a role in keeping our neighborhoods safe."
- The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) will partner with cities nationwide to implement policies that reduce the scope of law enforcement responses to health and social issues. They will work with each municipality to establish a data framework to maximize the number of 911 calls addressed by a range of civilian responders. After two years, building upon lessons learned, they will publish a web-based and interactive report that will provide jurisdictions with specific guidance for implementing policies that reduce the scope and number of law enforcement responses in their communities.
"Thanks to continued support from the NFL's 'Inspire Change' initiative, the Vera Institute of Justice will continue to develop evidence-based models that demonstrate how centering public health, promoting race equity, and addressing the needs of system-impacted people are very effective in enhancing community safety," said Daniela Gilbert, director of Vera Institute of Justice's Redefining Public Safety initiative and Jasmine Heiss, director of Vera Institute of Justice's Beyond Jails initiative. "This critical funding will allow Vera to partner with places around the country to develop and implement community-led policies, programs, and responses to health and social issues."