On Thursday, Jan. 26, the National Football League (NFL) announced an expansion in its partnership with the Players Coalition. The Players Coalition is an independent, nonprofit organization advocating for social justice and racial equality in the U.S. The organization was co-founded by former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin and former NFL safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Players Coalition works with over 1,400 professional coaches, owners, and athletes across sports leagues such as the NFL, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer, to make an impact.
The Players Coalition is focused on improving police and community relations, contributing to criminal justice reform, providing access to equitable education opportunities for students in underfunded schools, reducing racial disparity in school discipline, and closing the opportunity gap for students in low-income communities.
Co-founder Anquan Boldin says: “Over the past several years, Players Coalition has helped increase funding for public defenders, ensure that kids are treated like kids and that people get second chances when they grow and change. We have highlighted the role of elected officials who can hold those with power accountable and push for equity in education and in the legal system.”
The NFL has extended its partnership with the Players Coalition for an additional five years and provided a new $15 million grant to the organization. The NFL hopes this contribution will help the Players Coalition expand their outreach to more communities in order to drive systemic change. This expansion also marks the NFL’s success in surpassing their $250 million commitment to combat systemic racism, a goal set by their Inspire Change initiative. The NFL’s Inspire Change initiative unites NFL team owners, coaches, and players with law enforcement, community partners, and academic institutions to foster social equality. Much like the Players Coalition’s key pillars, the Inspire Change initiative is centered around revealing the inequities of the education system, improving financial literacy, creating change in policing, and reforming the criminal justice system.
“Combating social injustice is a continuous process,” says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “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.”
As part of its Inspire Change initiative, the NFL works closely with its 32 clubs, recognizing that each club is best equipped to identify and combat the social and racial challenges of their specific communities.
Boldin echoes the NFL’s mission, saying, “The NFL’s renewed support of Players Coalition will have an invaluable and tangible impact in the communities that the League’s 32 clubs call home, in the cities and counties where local change can occur.”
“We need to be vigilant in the fight for racial justice always– not just when there are mass protests in the street and it is popular to do so,” says Malcolm Jenkins, co-founder of Players Coalition. “We are grateful, then, that the NFL is continuing its support of the Players Coalition’s work on issues of race, justice, policing, and educational equity, even as national headlines around the work are again dissipating. We will continue the fight.”