NFL owners, players hand out 13 more social justice grants

Continuing the player-driven efforts in the fight for social justice, the NFL this week handed out 13 new grants to nonprofit organizations across the country as part of the Inspire Change initiative.

Inspire Change is the product of the partnership formed between the players and owners during the 2018 season and focuses on education, economic advancement, police and community relations and criminal justice reform. To date, the league and its teams have provided more than $95 million to programs across the country. 

This year’s new grants — which total roughly $4.3 million, according to the league — include new partners whose missions are aimed at helping to close the digital divide. 

"Education is a basic human right, and we can no longer deprive students of the tools they need to succeed, including devices and the internet," Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum, also a Players Coalition task force member and Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group member, said in a press release. "I am proud of the work Players Coalition and the NFL has done to help close this 'digital divide' and help those children in underserved communities."

The NFL and players are distributing more funds for social justice programs. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)

This year’s 13 grant recipients join a roster of 20 organizations that the players and owners have and continued to sponsor since forming their partnership.

The 2021 recipients:

• The Association for Enterprise Opportunity, which is based in D.C. and provides strategic and developmental assistance to Black owned businesses and targets the wealth gap that exists between Black and white American families.

• Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which plans to use the funding to help create the TLC Youth Advocacy process, an effort to further educate 5,000 teens and build advocacy capacity via service-learning projects. 

• Breakthrough Miami, whose Changemaker Leadership Track supports Breakthrough Scholars and recent alumni to build capacities to challenge the digital divide, gain early work experience, college advising, financial literacy and leadership development.

• L.A.-based Center for Policing Equity, and its efforts to expand COMPSTAT usage – a software that tracks incidents, identifies trends and holds departments accountable by measuring crime. 

• Covenant House, which is based in New York and focuses on workforce development and education services across the U.S. while serving youth and young families facing homelessness.

• Just City-Memphis and its Memphis Community Bail Fund, the Clean Slate Fund, and Court Watch programs. 

• Bronx-based Ladies of Hope Ministries and its Faces of Women Imprisoned Speakers Bureau, Parole and Probation Accountability Project, and EPIC Ambassadors policy advocacy project.

• MENTOR, which provides resources and tools on virtual mentoring made available to mentoring programs nationwide. 

• Oregon Justice Resource Center and its support of Women’s Justice Project – the first and only program in Oregon that addresses the needs of women in the criminal justice system. 

• Brooklyn’s Per Scholas, which enrolls 220 new individuals into its Software Engineering courses – a 15-week, full-time training program that will include technical instruction and professional development in efforts to advance economic equity.

• Texas Appleseed’s work in three areas that disproportionately affect Black and Latinx Texans from low-income backgrounds: driver’s license suspensions, criminal record expungement and debt collection.

• United Way Worldwide’s Young Men United initiative, which aims to support 25,000 young men of color in the United States to and through post-secondary and into entry-level career positions. 

• Silver Spring, Maryland’s US Dream Academy and its Children of Incarcerated Parents initiative, which provides mentorship, leadership training, educational support and career readiness for a unique population of primarily Black and Latinx young people in communities harmed by racial bias and mass incarceration.

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