"A closed mouth doesn't get fed," said Gwen Jenkins. This refrain from Malcolm Jenkin's mother Gwen has inspired him to not only speak out against injustice, but to take action to effect change for all people. In 2019, Malcolm continued this lifetime of service with efforts to further systemic change for the disenfranchised, disadvantaged, and underrepresented people of Philadelphia and beyond. Just days after this year's Super Bowl, Malcolm attended the Smart Justice California Retreat & Policy Summit to address probation, re-entry and mass incarceration. The group visited a state prison followed by a one-on-one conversation during the evening program with Adnan Khan. Khan had the first 25 year-to-life sentence be commuted by the Governor at the end of 2018 thanks to the passage of SB 1437, which amended CA's felony murder rule and ended the practice of sentencing non-killers to life in prison. In April 2019, Malcolm, NFL Veteran Will Allen, and a group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers visited neighborhoods impacted by the state's enhanced sentences for drug trafficking in a school zone. The tour physically showed participants how school zone laws are overbroad and have targeted communities of color – and why their mandatory penalties should not be reinstated. Later that month, Malcolm and Allen hosted a community forum with Allegheny County District Attorney candidates to talk criminal justice reform. The candidate forum featured discussions on the candidates' positions on key criminal justice reform issues and how they can be implemented at the local level to create a fairer justice system and improve public safety in Allegheny County. In June 2019, Malcolm received both the McSilver Award as a Vanguard for Social Justice from the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University and the Community Hero Award at the Community College of Philadelphia.
The McSilver Award recognizes Vanguards for Social Justice who are prominent in their fields and unafraid to use their platforms to help create a more equitable and just world. Malcolm, alongside rapper Meek Mill and four other prominent national activists, were awarded this prestigious award. Malcolm also received the Community Hero Award for his service in advancing education, economic advancement in low income communities, criminal justice reform, and police community relations. Also, in June 2019, Malcolm attended Michelle Obama's 5th anniversary of the "Beating the Odds Summit" to support students who have overcome obstacles to graduate from high school and commit to continue their higher education. Malcolm participated in an hour-long panel discussion with former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Beating the Odds student Rachel Scott, Robin Hood CEO Wes Moore, and Community College Graduate Ariel Ventura to discuss topics about navigating your first year of college, career building skills, and ways to succeed in and out of the classroom. Malcolm also lent his support for the Clean Slate Act in support of the passage of the bill to encourage the thousands of Pennsylvanians who qualify to take action beginning June 28. Most recently, in October 2019, Malcolm hosted a forum to get input on what the community of Philadelphia wants from its new Police Commissioner. The Philadelphia Mayor will appoint the Commissioner this year, and Jenkins provided a forum for the community to make their voices heard. The Mayor's choice will be critical to restoring the community's trust and creating a more fair and equitable system in Philadelphia. Malcolm was joined by panelists such as award-winning Philadelphia recording artist and REFORM Alliance Co-Chair, Meek Mill and Chief Public Defender of Philadelphia, Keir Bradford-Grey.
Not satisfied with the slower pace of large-scale reform, Malcolm also works to address the more immediate needs of individuals in communities meaningful to him. In 2010, during his second season with the Saints, Malcolm founded The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation: a 501©(3) nonprofit with a mission to create positive change in the lives of youth in underserved communities. Although the foundation work began in New Orleans, the organization has expanded to help youth in three other areas close to Malcolm: his home state of New Jersey; Ohio, where he attended Ohio State University; and Pennsylvania, where he currently resides.
The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation works to establish programs that emphasize mentorship, character development, leadership, education, life skills and health. One of Malcolm's staple initiatives, Project R.E.W.A.R.D.S., offers a life skills curriculum program to high school students in under-resourced New Orleans communities and has helped provide more than $130,000 in scholarships to college bound seniors since 2012. The program's goal is to provide at least $150,000 in scholarships by 2020. The Foundation, in partnership with Drexel University, also hosts a Summer S.T.E.A.M. program called Young Dragons. The free six-week program provided 75 students from Philadelphia's Promise Zone with an opportunity to examine technology and science through visual and performance arts and athletics. The Promise Zone is a two-square mile area in West Philadelphia that was identified by the Obama Administration as an urban area that lacks resources and faces challenges associated with persistent poverty. Malcolm's foundation has also helped organize an annual event called Get Ready Fest in Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. The Foundation partners with Feed the Children, sponsors and other community partners to provide pre-identified families with 25 pounds of food, 10 pounds of essential items, and health and wellness products. Over the last six years the program has helped 14,000+ people. Malcolm has for years taken on a leadership role in advocating for criminal justice reform. Over the last four years, with the help of some of his teammates and peers Malcolm has worked tirelessly to effectuate change in the justice system. In fall 2017, Malcolm orchestrated two days of key meetings that focused on many of these issues that are prevalent in the state of Pennsylvania. The first day allowed Malcolm, Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, grassroots organizations, policy leaders, and public defenders in the city. The second day, which took place in late October, provided Malcolm with the opportunity to attend meetings with politicians and lawmakers at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped support bills related to criminal justice reform – namely, Clean Slate legislation.
In addition to his personal efforts to create systemic change and his foundation work to create change for individuals, in 2017, Malcolm helped cofound the Players Coalition with 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Winner Anquan Bolden to inspire the next generation and challenge dominant power structures, build mass popular support and use culture to shift policy and change lives. The Players Coalition aims to do this by tackling key issues with guidance from a variety of evidence-based, subject matter experts. Players Coalition members have become credible messengers to generate mass popular support and mobilize action to highlight and correct the systemic and civic inequalities in our country. The Players Coalition consists of two arms including a public charity to provide education, community programs and support organizations delivering direct services strengthening police and community relations and education and economic advancement opportunities. A second campaigning and advocacy organization enables Players Coalition to take action to achieve social justice and racial equality by pressing lawmakers to support effective policies and programs to end systemic inequality and racism through criminal justice reform. In February 2017, Jenkins was announced as the recipient of the NFLPA's Byron "Whizzer" White Award for his outstanding charitable efforts off the field.