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The NFL’s social justice initiative has continued to inspire change in underserved communities, including a $250 million commitment to bring awareness, dialogue, and a renewed direction to the conversation of racial and social inequality.
On Thursday, officials revealed exclusively to the Black Press that its commitment includes dedicated financial resources from the league, clubs and players to nonprofits.
The commitment is also a league-wide amplification of inspiring stories of players making differences in their communities and society and deploying public policy and government affairs resources at the local, state, and national levels.
In the 2019 season, NFL teams participated in or hosted more than 500 social justice events.
Since 2017, they have contributed $44 million from sources including social justice grants approved by the league’s players and owner’s workgroup; the NFL Foundation matching grants; an ongoing financial commitment to the Player’s Coalition; and as part of 32 teams’ social justice matching funds.
“What inspired [the NFL] is the players lending their voices, their work, to issues of social injustice and racial injustice,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president of social responsibility and community relations. “This work didn’t start yesterday. Around 2016 and 2017, Colin Kaepernick and other players raised their voices and protested and started a movement which then inspired the NFL and our ownership to launch our Social Justice Initiatives.”
As a result of those efforts, continued discussions and dialogue, Isaacson said the NFL prioritized four key areas: education, economic advancement, criminal justice reform, and community and police relations.
Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, famously took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest social and racial injustice. However, his protest was widely misconstrued and condemned by many, and teams have since chosen not to sign the former star.
In the wake of continued police violence against African Americans and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the NFL recently issued an apology for failing to understand the scope of the injustice African Americans have faced.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been watching what’s going on, and there have been tons of discussions about what else we can do, how can we make it clear that this is an authentic and long-term commitment from the NFL,” Isaacson told Black Press USA. “That commitment is a standard $250 million over 10 years.”
Isaacson noted that the league’s 100-year history hasn’t just been about football.
“We’d be nowhere without our fans, and nowhere without our players and the communities that invest in us,” she said. “We’ve always been about investing in our communities, and a lot of that investment has been in underserved communities, Black communities, and communities of color. Whether it be on cancer-related work, health and wellness, physical activities, or domestic violence.
“What the NFL players have brought to the forefront over the past couple of years have been the importance of bringing community and law enforcement together,” Isaacson said. We’ve put our resources, money, and time into education and awareness. The NFL has stood for communities and giving back to communities, and particularly under-resourced and underfunded communities.”