As part of the NFL's Inspire Change social justice initiative, the league on Wednesday announced renewals of 21 national grant partners, totaling $6.5 million in donations.
Inspire Change showcases the collaborative efforts of players, clubs, and the league to create positive change in communities across the country. Since 2017, the NFL family has provided more than $244 million to 37 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country, nearing its 10-year, $250 million commitment to social justice efforts. This includes more than 1,800 Inspire Change matching grants provided by the NFL Foundation to current NFL players and Legends for nonprofits of their choice to help reduce barriers to opportunity.
The 21 renewed grants were recently approved by the Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group, which is comprised of a 10-member panel of players, legends and team owners. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations creating measurable change across the four pillars of Inspire Change, which include education, economic advancement, police-community relations and criminal justice reform.
"The NFL is proud to renew its commitment to these 21 organizations as they continue to drive positive change in communities nationwide," said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility. "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."
The specific impact these 21 grant partners have made in their communities include advocacy to end mass incarceration and offering tuition-free educational resources; wraparound services for youth battling homelessness; various mentorship programs and re-entry services; fighting to end cash bail and pre-trial detention; addressing "three-strikes" laws; and financial empowerment services.
The Player-Owner Social Justice Working Group also renewed its commitment to address the "digital divide," a longstanding barrier to internet and technology access in the U.S. exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disproportionately impacting communities of color. Specifically, the Working Group approved an additional $480,000 in funding allocated to NFL clubs -- $15,000 per club -- to further their work with local nonprofits to help alleviate the "digital divide" in areas that need it most.
- Alabama Appleseed will continue to provide legal services for people sentenced to life imprisonment for non-homicide offenses under Alabama's repeat offender statute, corresponding with hundreds of incarcerated individuals seeking assistance and ultimately investigating at least 50 new cases, as well as advance legislation to reform Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act, and grow its new "Fresh Start" re-entry program which has a recidivism rate of zero.
- Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) will further its credible-messenger based in-prison and reentry programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people through its Ride Home Program, Hope and Redemption Team, therapy groups led by mental health professionals, individual therapy with social workers, access to life coaches with lived experience as it relates to reentry and more. As it is communities of color who are overrepresented at all stages of the justice system, funding will also support policy and advocacy focusing on ending extreme sentencing, especially for youth, and ensuring constitutional protections, housing, therapy, family reunification options, and career pathways exist for formerly incarcerated individuals reentering the free world.
- One of the most trusted resources for engaging Black and minority-owned businesses, Association for Enterprise for Opportunity (AEO) will expand its RESILITM Program to serve 3,000 entrepreneurs nationally. RESILITM is a suite of high-impact and high-quality resources developed by AEO in collaboration with PayPal, Deloitte, Guidehouse, Facebook, Mastercard, Qualtrics and other partners. It will now include -- among other features -- a capital readiness score that 25% of entrepreneurs will use to assess their likelihood of being approved for loans during the grant period.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) will enrich the quality and expand the reach of its mentoring programs and their impact on youth by enhancing and innovating program opportunities and increasing mentor recruitment. Key focus areas include supporting youth with incarcerated family members, key localized programming and recruiting more men of color to volunteer as mentors through the Big Draft and other partner engagement opportunities.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) will expand its Think, Learn, Create Change (TLC) content and social justice programming, delivering relevant, new material to more kids and teens nationwide on issues like voting and racial equality. Additionally, the grant will enhance offerings at the organization's annual, teen-led National Keystone Conference, providing all attendees with leadership workshops, community service experiences and hands-on opportunities including a youth advocacy session and a new teen topic, "Social Justice: Wreck it! Break Down the Barriers of Social Justice."
- Breakthrough Miami will prepare and position 22 Success Coaches to lead academic advising and out-of-school-time learning to empower 600 students from 5th-12th grade to achieve academically and develop as leaders. Furthering its vision as an Opportunity Generator, and ensuring young people striving for educational opportunity can catch their dreams, Breakthrough is positioning young people as Success Coaches to ensure students can access high-quality critical academic support, build college preparatory non-academic skills leading to high school graduation and enter and thrive in college. Founded upon a signature students-teaching-students model, Breakthrough's work is informed by research that shows academic out-of-school-time programs and near-peer mentoring improve academics, and impact key outcomes including leadership, teamwork, self-efficacy and social responsibility.
- The Center for Policing Equity (CPE) will advance two interrelated efforts. A series of initiatives that integrate harm reduction into public safety design will draw on the implementation of COMPSTAT for Justice (C4J), use Data Gap Analyses (DGAs), and engage with the National Justice Database (NJD) Initiative, ensuring meaningful change within law enforcement systems, in alignment with CPE's long-term vision of public safety. CPE will also redesign and implement new, community-specific models for public safety that draw on scientific research and on-the-ground community-based advisement to encourage nationwide discourse on public safety narratives and decision-making among legislators, elected officials, law enforcement officials, and community advocates.
- City Year helps students and schools succeed while preparing the next generation of civically engaged leaders who can work across lines of difference. With the goal of recruiting diverse young adults by making national service opportunities more accessible, City Year will raise awareness about the benefits of service and increase living stipends for City Year AmeriCorps members. The organization also is enhancing coaching and professional development services for City Year AmeriCorps members to help them make the most of their service experience and position themselves for their career path or education after service.
- Community Justice Exchange will continue to work with organizers, advocates, and legal providers across the country that are using community bail funds as part of efforts to radically change local bail systems and reduce incarceration, impacting over 90 local community bail/bond funds across 37 states through its National Bail Fund Network by posting bail for thousands of individuals in pretrial and immigration detention per year, reunifying families and allowing people to resolve their cases from a place of freedom to reduce the impact of pretrial incarceration.
- Covenant House will support its education and workforce development programs in the U.S., helping them provide more than 2,000 youth experiencing homelessness with the career and education services they need over the next year as their dedicated staff partner with the resilient youth at Covenant House to help them overcome the systemic challenges they face in obtaining an education and launching a career through coaching, mentoring, tutoring, academic support, college application prep, career exploration, and job readiness and placement services.
- Just City will continue to operate its Clean Slate Fund, which has sealed the criminal histories of hundreds of people from public view, expanding employment and other economic opportunities. Just City will also continue to place volunteer observers in courtrooms to provide much-needed transparency and accountability to our court system through its Court Watch program.
- Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) will continue its Faces of Women Imprisoned (FOWI) speakers bureau -- created by formerly-incarcerated women -- to support a cohort of mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of loved ones who have lost loved ones to police violence as they share their stories to advance, frame, and broaden the conversation around policing, trauma, abuse, poverty and violence, as well as expanding a Pathways 4 Equity (P4E) program to break employment barriers for women and improve DE&I hiring practices.
- MENTOR will be able to double down on its investment in racial equity and strengthen MENTOR Affiliate's local field leadership with its Racial Equity Grants Program, an initiative launched in 2021 with the NFL Foundation's support to fund MENTOR Affiliates, as well as fund additional MENTOR National support to MENTOR Affiliates -- all of which contribute to individual and collective healing, upskilling, storytelling, and building a national movement dedicated to the complex challenge of dismantling systemic racism and centering long under-invested voices, especially from BIPOC communities.
- Metropolitan Family Services will expand its Metropolitan Peace Academy (MPA): expanding police training capacity; doubling the number of annual street outreach graduates; hosting quarterly onboarding trainings to support the new organizations entering street outreach; hosting quarterly deep dives for MPA alumni to continue their professional learnings; and, offering wellness services for outreach workers who suffer ongoing trauma as a result of working on communities heavily affected by gun violence.
- The National Urban League will scale the number of affiliate cities and down payment amount of its Down Payment Assistance initiative through increased enrollment in financial literacy and homeownership counseling programs and completion of its counseling program by new homebuying clients; and advance its Urban Re-entry Program through the inclusion of a criminal justice reform partnership with its NUL Equitable Justice Strategic Initiatives (EJSI) Division with the goal of expanded outreach capacity of its Record Expungement Project to reach 1,000 returning citizens nationally and increased 21 Pillars national community collaboration quarterly tour stops.
- The Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) will advance legal services and reforms as part of its Women's Justice Project for survivors who are charged with and convicted of crimes that have occurred because of their experiences of being survivors of domestic violence through a variety of research and services including the advancement of litigation that will offer greater protection to survivors in the criminal justice system, legal services to survivor-defendants and research on the experiences of survivor-defendants from arrest through re-entry.
- Operation HOPE will continue to remove traditional hurdles to Black entrepreneurship by providing them with the critical tools, resources and education needed to start -- and scale -- their ventures. To help level the playing field, 1,250 new business owners in Atlanta, New York City, and Nashville will have the opportunity to participate in the 1 Million Black Businesses Initiative (1MBB), which offers access to Operation HOPE's award-winning model of community uplift and financial literacy.
- Per Scholas will enroll over 6,000 people of color into immersive, cohort-based, tuition-free tech training courses over the next two years. Graduates are equipped with technical and professional skills that prepare them to succeed in high-growth technology careers. Per Scholas connects its graduates to robust employer networks, providing all graduates with access to employment opportunities ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative start-ups. Per Scholas continues to be committed to advancing economic mobility and DEI&B across our communities.
- Texas Appleseed will build on its recent work to reform policies and practices that disproportionately harm Black and Latinx Texans and Texans who are low-income. Their four focus areas are: ending license suspensions through OmniBase; eliminating reliance on law enforcement in calls for crisis; expanding criminal record sealing and expunction; and reforming Texas' debt collection practices. The organization will do this through engagement with coalition partners, meetings with key decision makers, and working with media to keep issues front-of-mind.
- The US Dream Academy will increase mentoring opportunities for elementary and middle school students impacted by parental incarceration by 62.5%; and pilot a first of its kind virtual support group, led by trained mental health professionals, for teenagers who are struggling with parental incarceration, to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences that can have lasting negative outcomes well into adulthood.
- The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) will continue to build a national movement to end mass incarceration and mass criminalization, with a focus on jail incarceration in our nation's smaller cities and rural communities. Vera will collaborate with community leaders, policymakers and law enforcement to ensure that poverty is not treated as a crime, including by eliminating money bail and criminal penalties for social issues that do not merit criminal legal response. Their work is fueled by the production of compelling data, research and evidence that supports local and state-level campaigns to stop jail expansion, reverse rising jail populations, and reduce punitive supervision in small cities and rural communities.