NFL Announces Creation Of The ‘Inspire Change’ Initiative

While the NFL owner elite may not be invited to the cookout anytime soon, the new Inspire Change initiative is certainly a good place to start.


On Friday, the National Football League announced the launch of its Inspire Change initiative, which will center on the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the league as a whole to enact positive change in underserved communities across the country with primary focuses on three areas:

» Education and economic advancement

» Police and community relations

» Criminal justice reform

A TV spot highlighting the new platform will air this weekend during the playoff games, with additional versions continuing throughout the postseason, including during the Super Bowl pregame.

The league’s newfound commitment to social justice programs resulted from the efforts of the Players Coalition lead by Malcolm Jenkins, Anquan Boldin, and others.

Also, the joint NFL players-owners working group recently approved two new social justice grants focused on the three priority areas.

Big Brothers and Sisters of America and Operation HOPE are the first two organizations to be given grants. While BBSA is expected to use the funding to support agencies that help create long term mentoring relations that “empower youth to reach their full potential and help communities connect across racial and economic lines.”

While that all sounds fine and dandy, money and hope will not alleviate the ills of systematic racism, it is certainly a welcome start.

“We are honored to be working with the NFL on the Inspire Change Initiative. Mentoring is a proven long-term strategy for bridging gaps in academics and income, and this grant will allow our agencies to create more strong mentoring relationships,” – Pam Iorio, President, and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Meanwhile, Operation HOPE will use the funds to support their work within underserved communities nationwide to equip young people and adults with the financial tools and education to secure a better future.

“Our vision is to create a stronger, more inclusive economy–and by extension, society through financial empowerment – and financial dignity. Think of the difference our programs make in people’s lives as they improve their FICO scores by 100 points or more. Think about the impact on families and communities as more people and more local businesses succeed. And consider the new investments and jobs that come to communities where people are financially secure and young people have the skills to be productive. We are proud to partner with the NFL as part of the Inspire Change initiative to bring meaningful impact to our communities and advance the critical dialogue on social justice taking place nationally.” – John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer.

These new grants are meant to build on to the culture changing efforts of such programs as Dream Corps and the UNCF (United Negro College Fund), both of which received funds from the program last season.

With this funding, Dream Corp was able to help pass the bipartisan First Step Act, and the UNCF is currently working on a new criminal and social justice initiative. For years, I believed UNCF to be obsolete and impedent in the greater social justice fight.

I hope this new look will prove me as wrong as wrong can be. Their new program aims to alleviate the impact of mass incarceration on individuals and communities through higher education, specifically UNCF’s 37 member-institutions and other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Additional grants will be announced as they are approved in the coming months.

The Players Coalition will announce the recipients of their social justice grants during Super Bowl week. The NFL Foundation continues funding social justice matching grants as submitted by current players, NFL Legends and teams.

To date, the Foundation has matched 365 social justice grants from players, and 28 grants submitted by teams, totaling nearly $2 million.

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