By Frances Esguerra, Writer
Early last month, Google and the San Francisco 49ers announced a joint grant of $2.35 million to support the National Center for Youth Law’s (NCYL) California Youth Justice Initiative, a juvenile justice reform effort in Santa Clara County, California that offers youth an alternative to arrest and incarceration. The grant, which includes $2.1 million from Google and $250,000 from the 49ers, will help the NCYL provide therapeutic, educational and occupational support to 1,000 young people. .
The 49ers’ $250,000 contribution is a part of the NFL’s social justice initiative that was created within the last year in response to player protests against police brutality and racial inequality. At a launch event held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman emphasized the importance of investing in the health and well-being of youth who have come into conflict with the law. “Once you get in the system it’s very difficult to make it out,” explained Sherman. “It’s very difficult to learn what you need to do to be in the workforce, to be a great person, because you spend so much time trying to survive the situations you are put in.”
Santa Clara County has one of the highest juvenile misdemeanor arrest rates in California. With the area’s Black and Latino youth being 7.5 and 4 times more likely than White youth to be arrested, a five-member player committee that included Sherman, selected the California Youth Justice Initiative in hopes of combating racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system.
Why We Like it:
We greatly appreciate Google and the San Francisco 49ers’ efforts in intervening with youth offenders’ mindsets and cutting down on recidivism at an early age. By investing in the youth, both organizations show their support and belief that mistakes do not define an individual. Their involvement in the juvenile justice system promotes the empowerment of a diverse group of potential leaders. Their $2.35 million grant is a symbol of their faith in young offenders’ ability to learn from their previous mistakes and grow into people the world can entrust with its future. Additionally, as both Google and the San Francisco 49ers are comprised of individuals with different cultural backgrounds, this initiative is representative of their DNA as organizations and reflects their commitment to creating opportunity for everyone.
How it Can be Improved:
With the Bay Area being a cultural melting pot of diverse people, we would like to see more Bay Area businesses get involved with the NCYL’s California Youth Justice Initiative. Google has done a fantastic job in their community outreach programs as it has been working towards a 5-year goal to award $5 billion in grants and contributing one million employee volunteer hours. Encouraging employee engagement would provide the youth with the opportunity to witness firsthand that there are people choosing to invest their time in their growth and development despite their mistakes. We would also like to see the 49ers, who will become the Bay Area’s only professional football team, spread their reach to other regions of the Bay Area that suffer from the same racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system. Involvement by 49ers front office staff and possibly words of encouragement by players would inspire the youth in the most memorable way.
Philanthropy Playmakers is a sports philanthropy consulting firm that advises non-profits, athletes and foundations. Our core competencies include fundraising strategy, strategic planning, marketing, and communications at the intersection of sports and philanthropy. To learn more, contact us.
By Frances Esguerra, Writer
Coaches Across Continents (CAC) recently launched a six-month pilot program to unite the fractured, grief-stricken society of Rohingya refugees who fled from the Rakhine state of Myanmar in response to attacks by Rohingya militants. CAC is a UK- and US-based non-governmental organization that uses soccer to improve the quality of life of children in low-income areas. With the support of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), the CAC is using soccer to rebuild the foundation of a people whose world was turned upside down by violence.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh has become home to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees, making the town three times bigger than any other refugee camp in the world. Described by the UN as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims beginning in August 2017 is believed to be the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.
Over the six-month pilot program, CAC has trained 75 local Rohingya refugees to become soccer coaches in 25 different camps within Cox’s Bazar. The AFC and BFF have provided equipment for the 500,000 children under the age of 17 living in the camps. The program will conclude with a Football Fun Festival in May 2019 with hopes of continuing and expanding with additional funding.
Why We Like it:
We appreciate CAC’s efforts in taking a community-based approach in uplifting the Rohingya community. Training refugee coaches to work with and support others in the camp facilitates social engagement through sport, fostering connections founded on empathy. Not only can both the coaches and children focus on an activity other than their plight, but they can work side-by-side with others who understand their situation. CAC’s initiative is an inspiring use of sport to unite a resilient people in such a difficult time.
How it Can Be Improved:
With the help of the AFC and BFF, CAC has been able to provide athletic equipment to the boys and girls within the camps, but additional support and funding from other organizations would ideally help develop the six-month pilot program into a more consistent, longer-lasting initiative to keep refugee spirits high. CAC and the trained refugee coaches could work together to organize a league for the people of Cox’s Bazar to rally behind.
Philanthropy Playmakers is a sports philanthropy consulting firm that advises non-profits, athletes and foundations. Our core competencies include fundraising strategy, strategic planning, marketing and communications at the intersection of sports and philanthropy. To learn more, contact us.
The NFL enforces strict rules on players’ game-time cleats. Per league regulation, players are required to wear team color-designated cleats during games, restricting their creativity and individuality. Even personal messages written on the cleats must be approved before a player can set foot onto the field. The NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign gives players a three-week break from the monotony of uniformity while providing them with an opportunity to give back to the community through a charitable cause of their choice.
This 2018 NFL season, the campaign’s third year in effect, over 800 players will be participating, representing hundreds of different charitable organizations.
For NFL games during Weeks 13-15 of the season, each NFL team designated one game as its My Cause, My Cleats game, in which players will wear customized cleats that reflect their commitment to pre-approved charitable causes. Players and teams work directly with local customizers and even large companies like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour to design their cleats. Players also have the opportunity to auction their customized cleats at NFL auction, where 100 percent of the funds raised are donated towards charities selected by the players.
While the My Cause, My Cleats campaign encourages individuality in imagining unique, creative cleat designs, it promotes unity by encouraging players and teams to collectively think of and raise awareness and money for something bigger than themselves. In a time when it seems as if the human race is divided by almost every social matter imaginable, seeing NFL players unite for a greater good through several different causes is a refreshing and much needed reminder that the world is in constant need of help. The My Cause, My Cleats campaign is a simple but effective means of facilitating that help.
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Early last month the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) moved to decertify USA Gymnastics as a national governing body. In an open letter to all USAG gymnasts and the U.S. gymnastics community, CEO Sarah Hirshland said that the USOC will take over managing the gymnastics team.
“[E]veryone now faces the difficult reality of belonging to a national organization that continues to struggle to change its culture, to rebuild its leadership and to effectively serve its membership,” Hirshland wrote. “You deserve better.”
Hirshland was referring to several instances of the USAG’s moral ineptitude during and following the sentencing of former team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting over 265 victims. Disgraced former USAG President Steve Penny resigned amid the fallout of the molestation scandal and was also arrested for tampering with evidence in the Nassar case. USAG CEO Kerry Perry was also forced out of her job in September in response to the years of sexual assault that led to the loss of key corporate sponsorship. Furthermore, her replacement Mary Bono stepped down only five days after being appointed after posting an Anti-Nike tweet about the company’s Colin Kaepernick ad.
In response to a tweet announcing the revocation of USAG’s status as a national governing body, Rachel Denhollander, the first gymnast to accuse Nassar of abuse, wrote, “THANK YOU… [I]t is high time for this organization to end and a new one, truly dedicated to athlete safety to begin. A COMPLETE regimen change should start now. This is for every survivor.”
Hirshland and Denhollander are both correct—the USAG gymnasts deserve better, and it’s about time that the proper action take place in creating a safe environment for the athletes. The USOC’s decision sends a clear message against abuse. As the USAG struggles to change its culture, starting anew under USOC management cannot erase the pain caused at the hands of Nassar and those who turned a blind eye to his abuse, but it represents a step toward rebuilding an organization that serves its members first and foremost. Though the path to follow USAG’s decertification is still unclear, the U.S. gymnastics community can expect a much-needed, long-awaited change for its future.
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Three-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry sprung to action upon receiving a letter from Riley Morrison, a 9-year-old girl who was starting a new basketball season and wanted to know why his signature shoe, the Curry 5, wasn’t available in the girls’ section of Under Armour’s website. In her letter, Morrison pointed out how the shoes were, however, available under the boys’ section, even with a customization option. “I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp,” Morrison wrote, “I hope you can work with Under Armour to change this because girls want to rock the Curry 5’s too.”
Curry could have easily ignored the letter or put off responding until after the season, but he immediately wrote back, explaining that the smaller sizes of his shoe were labeled as “boys” on the website and that he and Under Armour were fixing the issue immediately. Additionally, he sent Morrison a pair of Curry 5’s, promised her a pair of the Curry 6’s when they release and invited her to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th with him in Oakland.
Back in August, Curry penned an op-ed letter in The Player’s Tribune entitled “This Is Personal,” which emphasized his desire for his daughters to “grow up knowing that there are no boundaries that can be placed on their futures.” His swift action in communicating with Under Armour to rebrand the smaller sizes of his shoe as “Grade School UA Curry 5” instead of “Boys UA Curry 5” showed his sincerity behind that wish.
Curry went above and beyond to show his fan that he does believe that basketball is for everybody. Both his and Under Armour’s urgent responses set an example for other companies to be more inclusive in a world that still needs work in doing the same.
Six-time NBA Champion and Finals MVP Michael Jordan announced early last month that he will be donating all of his proceeds from his upcoming ESPN Films and Netflix documentary series “The Last Dance” to Friends of the Children, a national nonprofit organization that pairs youth born into poverty with a salaried, professional mentor for their entire childhood, from kindergarten through their high school graduation. The donation, a multimillion-dollar investment, will help Friends of the Children expand its campaign to 25 cities by 2025 to empower more youth against the risks of dropping out of school, substance abuse, incarceration and teen parenting.
Jordan’s generosity towards the mentorship program was inspired by his gratitude for this own mentors, specifically his father and his college coach, Dean Smith, who changed his life. “What stood out to me about Friends of the Children was that they… commit to every child for 12 ½ years,” Jordan explains. “That dedication is important to me. My mentors believed in me and taught me the power of perseverance. I want youth in Friends of the Children to see that they have the same potential.”
With Jordan’s multimillion-dollar investment in Friends of the Children is an investment in the nation’s future. His efforts in empowering the youth through mentorship aid in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and give them hope to become more than cards they were dealt.
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Super Bowl LII Champion Zach Ertz and his wife, 2017 US World Cup Soccer Champion Julie Ertz, gave back to the greater Philadelphia area by hosting the City of Love Event and Auction Fundraiser Sponsored by Zebra Technologies on November 29th at Lincoln Financial Field. The event featured food, wine, entertainment and a live, silent auction that gave their teammates, fans, companies and supporters an opportunity to win authentic sports memorabilia and unforgettable experiences.
In the spirit of thanksgiving and the holiday season, the couple decided to host the event to celebrate and return the love and support that the Philadelphia community has shown them over the years. Proceeds from the gala will help fund the Ertz Family Foundation’s “City of Love Fund,” a grant-making program intended to support local Philadelphia and surrounding area charities that serve youth sports, education and family. The “City of Love Fund” is also benefitting from Zach’s Catches for the Community campaign, in which he pledged $100 for every catch he has this 2018 NFL season.
Zach and Julie launched the Ertz Family Foundation in the summer after a life-changing visit to the impoverished country of Haiti. The trip helped the couple realize that their dream was to change others’ lives together through faith, hope and love. The foundation’s launch event was a gala in Northern California, a region close to their hearts as they both attended college in the Bay Area, that raised $200,000 to build a sports complex in Haiti and support College Is Real charities in the Bay Area and Philadelphia.
With the help of Zebra Technologies, Eagles Charitable Foundation, Philadelphia 76ers, and all of the City of Love Event’s sponsors, Zach and Julie were able to, once again, give back to the communities that have loyally supported them. The Ertz couple’s unfailing generosity is an admirable example of two people using their platform and resources to better the world.
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From October 26th through November 1st, eBay and NASCAR launched their first joint charity sale giving fans a chance to bid on 20 items, including a chance to see the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a VIP experience at the 2019 Daytona 500, autographed memorabilia by NASCAR legends, meet and greets, coveted racing experiences and more.
All proceeds from each item will go towards the NASCAR Foundation’s programs for children. The foundation is dedicated to giving every child a chance at a healthy life and the opportunity “to get across the finish line” by providing healthcare services to children across the US.
Through eBay and NASCAR’s charity sale, NASCAR fans have the opportunity to show their allegiance to their favorite drivers while supporting a cause that positively impacts the racing community’s next generation of fans. NASCAR set an example for other professional sports leagues to help those in need by providing its fans a platform to do so as well.
On October 25th, Soccer Aid for Unicef announced that its 2018 campaign raised a record-breaking total of £6,746,557. All of the money will be going towards protecting children in danger around the world. Soccer Aid for Unicef has been raising money to keep kids safe for 12 years and has raised over £30 million in that time. According to Unicef UK Executive Director Mike Penrose, the 2018 campaign made “twice the difference for children in danger.” The UK Government and celebrities like Michael Sheen, Usain Bolt and Olly Murs matched the public donations pound-for-pound.
Supporters from all over the world came to the soccer match at Old Trafford, contributing greatly to the record-breaking amount of funds raised for the cause. Fans saw Unicef UK Ambassador Robbie Williams’s England team, led by Olly Murs, play against Soccer Aid World XI captained by Olympic medalist and arguably the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt. Former professional footballer and Manchester United legend Eric Cantona also came out of retirement for the cause to play in an exciting, sold-out match ending with England’s win over World XI in sudden death. Soccer Aid for Unicef also announced that next year’s soccer match in June 2019 will take place at Stamford Bridge, which is the first time the game will be played at Chelsea.
Soccer Aid’s long-term and substantial efforts continually create better lives for children around the world. The record-breaking fundraising total is a testament to the generosity of the British public and soccer fans who come from all over the world to show their support.
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After placing second in Epic Games’ Fortnite Pro Am alongside pro gamer CourageJD, Brooklyn Nets forward Kenneth Faried used his $250,000 prize money for charity to launch his foundation, Kenneth Faried HAT. HAT, an acronym for Humble, Appreciative and Thankful, is a foundation dedicated to teach kids how to attain and maintain a positive mindset during both trial and success through the fundamentals of basketball, teamwork and respect. Faried believes that staying humble, appreciative and thankful through life’s obstacles, despite one’s achievements, is the key to leadership. He hopes that his foundation will help kids become good leaders through sport.
Faried has always been interested in technology and actually wanted to pursue a degree in Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS). According to Faried, college basketball was harder than professional basketball, and his demanding schedule made it difficult for him to keep up with the coding. He got into gaming because of his parents, who were both gamers. His father and mother both have their own TVs beside their beds, each with an Xbox One. Whenever a new system drops, all three of them will get it to play their respective games. For Faried, all the times his parents told him to “play your game and get out of my room” paid off with Fortnite.
Faried is one of many pro athletes who have invested their time, money and talents into esports, a rapidly growing industry of competitive video gaming. He used his passion for technology to create a foundation that empowers the youth to be future leaders in the community. Faried found a way to use his on- and off-court talents to better the world by investing in its future—today’s children.
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