The NFL Renews 21 Grants For Racial Equality, Continuing The Evolution Of The League’s Public Face

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As the NFL continues to address the diversity and racial equality front, the league announced on Tuesday the renewals of 21 national grant partners.

The grant awards total $6.5 million in donations as part of the NFL’s Inspire Change social justice initiative.

“The NFL is proud to renew its commitment to these 21 organizations as they continue to drive positive change in communities nationwide,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson in a statement.

The Pivot

Amid social unrest after the murder of George Floyd, the NFL launched Inspire Change after players, both current and former, began to voice their opinions about social justice reform, most notably Colin Kaepernick.

The initiative showcases the collaborative efforts of players, clubs, and the league to create positive change in communities. The NFL has reportedly provided more than $244 million to 37 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country.

The efforts fulfill a 10-year, $250 million commitment for social justice efforts, including more than 1,800 Inspire Change matching grants provided by the NFL Foundation. Those grants were given to current NFL players and former legends for the nonprofit organizations of their choice to reduce and ultimately eliminate the barriers to opportunity.

When Players And Owners Meet

“The greater societal needs that these organizations serve represent the core tenets behind Inspire Change, and their meaningful work and measurable impact continue to inspire the NFL in its ongoing quest for social justice,” Isaacson continued.

Recently, the 21 grants were approved by the Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group, a 10-member panel of current players, NFL legends, and team owners. The grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations meeting the four pillars of Inspire Change: education, economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

The receiving organizations are Alabama Appleseed, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), Breakthrough Miami, Center for Policing Equity, City Year, Community Justice Exchange, Covenant House, Just City, Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM), MENTOR, Metropolitan Family Services, National Urban League, The Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC), Operation HOPE, Per Scholas, Texas Appleseed, US Dream Academy, and the Vera Institute of Justice.

Bridging The Digital Divide

Inspire Change selected the grant partners for the individual impact each has made in their respective communities. From advocacy to end mass incarceration and offering tuition-free educational resources, services to battle youth homelessness, re-entry services, and the fight to end cash bail and pre-trial detention, the grant funding hopes to serve a wide range of the community.

Additionally, addressing the “digital divide,” the barrier to internet and technology access due to COVID-19, disproportionately impacts communities of color. The Working Group approved an additional $480,000 in funding allocated to NFL clubs, or $15,000 per club, furthering their work with local nonprofits to help alleviate the “digital divide.”

As teams like the Washington Commanders are still reeling from the email scandal and more, and Kaepernick is getting an NFL workout again, the NFL is looking to evolve to match the wants of its core Black employee base.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.