The NFL has contributed more than $40 million in grants to social justice organizations across the country as part of the Inspire Change initiative since April 2018. This includes more than 750 grants provided by the NFL Foundation to current NFL players and NFL Legends for nonprofits of their choice. The NFL announced two new Inspire Change grants and seven grant renewals recently approved by the NFL’s Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group.
The new and renewed grants total $3.5 million and are in addition to national grants previously awarded over the last two years. Since 2018, the NFL has provided Inspire Change grants to 20 nonprofit organizations in support of programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform. In January, the league awarded nearly $3 million in social justice grants.
Recently, the NFL Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group announced a $3.05 million donation to support COVID-19 relief in predominantly African American communities as part of the league’s social justice funding.
Also included in the $40 million total Inspire Change contribution are this year’s club-player matching social justice funds. Adopted in 2018 by all 32 NFL clubs, this initiative encourages clubs to match the contributions of their players and work collaboratively to support local social justice organizations.
“The work of our Inspire Change grant partners has a tremendous impact on communities across the country,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Each of these organizations has worked to reduce barriers to opportunity and has provided resources that meet the needs of the communities they serve. We are proud to assist with their respective efforts to a more equal and just tomorrow.”
New Grant Recipients
New social justice grant recipients Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO, Inc.) and Success For All will each use Inspire Change funding for educational advancement. CLEO, Inc., focuses on inspiring, motivating, and preparing students from underrepresented communities to succeed in law school and beyond. Success For All’s dollars will support programs to improve education for at-risk students through The Getting Along Together Program and professional development support for 12 schools in Nashville, Tenn., serving approximately 6,000 students.
The Inspire Change grant has helped the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) further its Hope and Redemption Team, a group of former life prisoners who go back into eight California state prisons to provide on-going programming, rehabilitative services, and reentry support to incarcerated individuals. Annually, this team helps 3,000 people create successful reentry plans, and with 2020 funding, ARC will expand its services to youth inside Division of Juvenile Justice Facilities in California. Funding has also supported ARC’S wraparound services, including case management, mental health resources, and mentorship opportunities to improve the well-being of its members. ARC also works to advance policies that reduce youth contact with the justice system and reentry outcomes for individuals returning home from incarceration.
Big Brother Big Sisters of America will continue to use its funding to help bridge the gap between police officers and the communities they serve and provide more youth with a mentor who is always in their corner. “The Big Draft”, a national recruiting campaign possible in part by Inspire Change, has raised awareness of the importance of mentorship and has encouraged hundreds of men and women to sign up to be a Big.
Inspire change helps Gideon’s Promise fund its mentorship program for the next generation of public defenders. This year’s funding will help to expand the mentorship program, supporting training and orientation for new mentors and mentees.
Inspire Change supports NAF in providing high school students of all backgrounds with life-changing opportunities that prepare them to succeed in post-secondary education and careers. In partnership with the NFL, NAF works in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York City, and Washington, DC to collaborate with business partners to provide exclusive work-based learning, internship, and employment opportunities for high school students; create paid group internship opportunities (Future Ready Labs) that enable students to collaborate on meaningful work for businesses in their communities; and offer professional development for high school educators and school administrators, empowering them to provide students a high-quality, career-focused education.
Operation HOPE uses Inspire Change support to encourage economic advancement, serving 37,964 adults and 14,688 youth in 2019. In addition to other programs emphasizing financial literacy and the accessibility of financial wellness, the organization has partnered with two NFL clubs to deliver services in their respective markets. Operation HOPE launched HOPE Inside Santa Clara in partnership with the San Francisco 49ers to extend financial inclusion and economic equality to historically underrepresented communities. In partnership with the Miami Dolphins, the organization has also delivered youth financial dignity programming, emphasizing not just financial literacy but inclusion in Florida.
Vera Institute of Justice has focused Inspire Change funding on the In Our Backyards and Serving Safely initiatives. In Our Backyards works to stop the rise of incarceration in small towns and rural communities, demonstrating how the overuse of jails and prisons in our communities disproportionately and unjustly burdens the poor and communities of color. As part of this initiative, Vera organized a visit to Broome and Tompkins counties in rural New York state with Michael Thomas and Antoine Bethea from the New York Giants, the third in a series of educational collaborations, to speak with people most impacted by jail incarceration about what would bring real safety and justice to their county. Through Serving Safely, Vera has developed and advanced research that drives a national conversation about the role of police by examining alternatives to enforcement; providing tools that empower communities; directing people to resources outside the criminal justice system; and facilitating police-community collaborations.
VOTE NOLA continues its efforts to educate and protect the voting rights of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, VOTE provided 10,000 N95 masks to individuals inside Louisiana prisons and jails.