by Daphne Young
For the first time, the National Football League is kicking off a collective social justice campaign during weeks 17 and 18 at NFL games. And I bet Colin Kaepernick is chuckling.
Last week, the NFL announced their plans to begin airing videos during games, along with PSAs and end zone stencils with social justice messaging aimed at amplifying the work being done towards social justice by NFL players, clubs, leagues and social justice partners. This new NFL campaign is meant to help break down barriers to opportunities and end systemic racism.
“It’s one thing to talk about change and impact. But I’m one of those people who want to do something about it,” says Kelvin Beachum, Players Coalition Task Force member, Social Justice Working Group member and Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman.
“The Players Coalition and the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative are committed to doing the work by providing grant money to ensure education equity, improve social justice efforts and focus on economic advancement and criminal justice reform. Real change comes from getting the right people on board, having the right conversations and then finding solutions.”
As part of the Inspire Change social justice initiative, the league has also awarded funding to four new national grant partners: Year Up, Wall Street Bound, Free Minds Book Club and Get Schooled. These national grant partners were recently approved by the Social Justice Working Group, composed of five players and five team owners.
“We are proud of the work the NFL family collectively has put behind the Inspire Change initiative, particularly the immense value our Clubs and players have placed on utilizing resources and their platform to help create a more equitable society,” says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
impactful work being done by NFL players and grant partners in their local communities
“We are excited and pleased to welcome four new grant partners to the NFL family, who with our players, our Clubs and the League will continue to drive positive change in local communities and across the country.”
During games, NFL Clubs will showcase in-stadium activations including end zone stencils with social justice messaging such as: “It Takes All of Us” and “Advance Social Justice.” They’ll also feature goalpost wraps and banners, sideline branding, helmet stickers and Inspire Change-branded towels for players.
Plus, fans will also be able to watch video compilations of players and clubs volunteering in their communities both in-stadium and in-game broadcasts, and view Inspire Change grant partner features and PSAs which highlight the impactful work being done by NFL players and grant partners in their local communities.
Since 2017, the NFL has provided more than $180 million to 37 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country, which is part of the league’s $250 million commitment to social justice efforts over 10 years.
This includes more than 1,800 grants provided by the NFL Foundation to current NFL players and Legends for nonprofits of their choice. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that focus on the four Inspire Change pillars: education, economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.
“What I noticed is that I was one of the few Blacks on the trading floor, and the desk.”
One of the newest grant partners this year is Wall Street Bound. This New York based non-profit recently expanded to Concord, Calif., and the program will provide young adults from communities of color with the skills, experience and social capital to be successful in financial services careers.
Troy Prince, founder and CEO of Wall Street Bound, was raised in the South Bronx in an immigrant family. Prince says by age 15 he discovered the stock market and was working on Wall Street just a few years later.
“What I noticed is that I was one of the few Blacks on the trading floor, and the desk.” Prince said he soon realized that Wall Street didn’t have an interest in finding Blacks with the talent to invest. “So, after a 30-year career on Wall Street, I moved back three years ago and wrote my first curriculum.”
Now, thanks to the NFL’s social justice grant, funding will support financing workshops and bootcamps, serving 174 students throughout 2022. The 20-25 hour bootcamps will offer finance career path introductions workshops and will lead into a rigorous 10-week technical and professional skills training program.
“To date, we’ve trained over 300 students since inception,” added Prince. When asked what the NFL grant will mean to his group, Prince replied: “As we expand our geographics and reach more young people, we carry that [NFL] flag with us now. And, as we go into new schools or areas where Wall Street says they can’t find people of color, we walk in the door with something like this. Also, as a non-profit, we are funded by the public and I take this very seriously.”
Prince added that with the grant from the NFL they’ll be able to offer students more resources, staff and conferences. At least 30 percent of the students in Wall Street Bound come from California. But students from all across the country take part in the program.
For more information, contact Wall Street Bound.
Other grant partners selected this year include:
- Year Up connects young adults, 90 percent of whom identify as a person of color, to livable wage careers at hundreds of top companies, and has shown the highest wage gains of any workforce development program. By providing marketable job skills, coursework eligible for college credit and access to corporate internships, Year Up has been able to serve 35,000 young adults over the past 21 years, helping to close the Opportunity Divide – the gap between motivated, talented young people in need of an opportunity and companies in need of their skills.
- Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop works with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth and adults using the literacy arts, workforce development, trauma, healing and advocacy to create personal and societal change. The grant will support a 12-week in-house peer support training program teaching trauma-informed care, social emotional wellness and crisis response.
- Get Schooled uses digital programming to help underserved youth access first time jobs and college while providing the resources to succeed in both. Existing Inspire Change grant partners who work specifically with college aged youth will have the opportunity to partner with Get Schooled to bring their digital content and programming to those communities.
For more information on the NFL’s Inspire Change social justice initiative visit www.nfl.com/inspirechange. Follow @InspireChange on Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook, follow here. And, to view the Inspire Change infographic click here.
Bottom line: The NFL is finally onboard with social justice and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.