The NFL announced Monday it will provide $2.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations fighting for social justice, including two groups in the D.C. metropolitan region.
As part of the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program, the D.C.-based United Negro College Fund and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity Inc. (CLEO) in Largo, Maryland, will receive funds from the league.
“It’s critical for us as a nonprofit to get support from great organizations like the NFL foundation,” said Leigh Allen II, CLEO’s interim CEO. “[The NFL] supporting organizations who are out there … doing the work that needs to be done, but always could use additional resources in the form of in-kind support, monetary support and other resources.”
CLEO, which seeks to help students from underrepresented and low-income communities interested in the legal profession, will receive $50,000 toward its six-week, pre-law summer institute program to help first-year law students prepare for law school. The program will be done with Penn State Dickinson Law, the oldest law school in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest in the country.
The NFL awarded the organization $50,000 last year, which it used for marketing, technology and other programs.
Since 2017, the NFL has provided more than $160 million to hundreds of national and local nonprofit organizations.
The nine grants awarded Monday received previous approval by a social justice working group comprised of 10 NFL players and team owners. The grant focuses on four areas: social justice, education, criminal justice reform and economic advancement.
“Organizations like CLEO and UNCF are rooted in their communities and working hard to provide necessary resources that create real change,” Anna Isaacson, NFL senior vice president for social responsibility, said in a statement. “They are both instrumental in fighting for diversity and equity in educating students and empowering them with the skills to become our future leaders.”
CLEO, established in 1968, has helped more than 26,000 students nationwide through its various high school mentoring, pre-law and law school training programs. At least 60% of the students CLEO assists are Black and the majority are women.
“We are always striving to get more males into the program, especially minority males,” Allen said. “CLEOs mission is to diversify the legal profession and to make it more inclusive and equitable for all people.”