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.
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