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.