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NFL extends partnership with Players Coalition by committing an additional $15 million over five years

Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin (left to right) each spent more than a decade as highly productive NFL players. Both made three Pro Bowls, while Jenkins won two Super Bowl titles to Boldin's one.
Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin (left to right) each spent more than a decade as highly productive NFL players. Both made three Pro Bowls, while Jenkins won two Super Bowl titles to Boldin's one.

Seeking to build on positive gains they have made in the fight to combat racial and social injustice, the NFL and the Players Coalition have agreed to extend their partnership by an additional five years and $15 million in grants, has learned.

A formal announcement is expected Thursday afternoon. (EDITOR'S UPDATE: A couple hours after publishing, the league did indeed announce the expanded partnership.)

"In our first five years, we have supported public defender equity, lobbied for second chances for those serving long sentences and advocated for racial equality in our legal and education systems," Players Coalition co-founder and 14-year NFL veteran Anquan Boldin said. "We have pushed for accountability for powerful actors and called attention to races where elected officials have tremendous authority over equity issues -- people like district attorneys and sheriffs. We have achieved a lot, but the work isn't close to being done. Now, we have the resources to continue it and increase our reach."

The NFL and the Players Coalition first partnered in 2018, under what the league now calls the Inspire Change Initiative. Since then, the NFL and its teams, along with the players, have surpassed the initial 10-year, $250 million that was committed to fight systemic racism in 2020.

"Combatting social injustice is a continuous process," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement provided to on Thursday. "The NFL Family understands the role we have in shaping and contributing to a more equitable future. The more experience we have doing just that, the stronger our drive is to continue. Through our expanded partnership with the Players Coalition, we are committed to building upon even more impactful opportunities and to investing in leading organizations and individuals at the frontlines of social justice work."

The extension and its new monies are expected to help build on the NFL's social justice grants, which to date have not only benefited at least 650 local nonprofits, 1,950 player/Legend matching grants and more than 40 national grant partners, but also contributed to significant legislative wins in areas that include youth justice, voter rights/restoration, policing, education and teacher equity. Those areas were specifically targeted by the Players Coalition, an independent nonprofit that has worked with more than 1,400 professional athletes, coaches and owners across multiple sports leagues on how to educate and advocate for reform. By lending their voices, time and resources to various causes, they saw:

"In 2020, after police murdered George Floyd, the entire country weighed in on the fight for racial justice," said Players Coalition co-founder and 13-year NFL vet Malcolm Jenkins. "Sadly, those voices have dwindled, and a lot of 'advocacy' has been reduced to simple messages on Twitter. The work, however, remains just as critical and urgent as before."

Along with its commitment to the Players Coalition, the NFL, with input from league partners and guidance from players, is expected to announce that it will direct its own national social justice grants toward causes that fall within the four pillars of Inspire Change. They are as follows:

  • Education: Fostering mentorship for better outcomes in education and beyond.
  • Economic advancement: Advancing access to financial literacy and career pipelines.
  • Police and community relations: Creating changes in policing through law enforcement-community collaboration and alternative crisis responders.
  • Criminal justice reform: Providing transition support for the formerly incarcerated and advocating for key reforms to the criminal legal system.

"We are still seeing citizens lose their lives to unnecessary police violence -- as recently as this month," Jenkins said. "Racial inequities persist in every aspect of our society, from schools to courtrooms to prison. This extension allows us to continue to support grassroots organizations and deep community work at a time when it is badly needed. Social justice work is not as popular as it was just a couple of years ago, but is critically important, and we are grateful for the support."

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