The Chicago Bears announced today the five recipients for the $813,850 that was donated primarily by players, with matching grants from the Bears, Bears Care and NFL Foundation. By the Hand Club for Kids, Kicks 4 the City, SAGA, YWCA Lake County and My Block, My Hood, My City will each receive separate donations out of the total allotment. Together, the players collectively will donate $291,600 and coaches and front office executives, led by General Manager Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy, will contribute $19,550. The Bears will match the total donation of $311,150, along with additional matching grants from Bears Care and the NFL Foundation.
"We are beyond excited to come together as a team and organization to take advantage of the opportunity the NFL has provided and announce these donations," said linebacker and NFLPA representative Sam Acho. "Together, we can empower our communities and help them better educate our youth both in the classroom and beyond, while also strengthening relationships with the police."
"We are so proud of the players for all of the work they put into making this happen and are especially excited about the collaborative effort that was made between the players and front office," said Chairman George H. McCaskey.
In March, the National Football League announced that each club would match player contributions up to $250,000 annually, for the purposes of establishing a fund to support community improvement, social justice and law enforcement relationships. Bears players were the first team to collectively commit to donating more than $250,000 to social justice initiatives.
A social justice committee was formed featuring Acho, Trey Burton, Chase Daniel, Akiem Hicks, Mitchell Trubisky and four front office staff members, including McCaskey. These players are representative of the whole roster; over 40 players have also been involved and provided donations. The committee met with and has been in continued discussion with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which provided research and resources about areas that need the most assistance.
By The Hand Club For Kids
Donnita Travis, Founder and Executive Director: "We are thrilled to partner with the Chicago Bears to address issues of race and social justice with our more than 1,500 youth across Chicago. We believe all young people should have the opportunity to live in a safe community, free from violence, where they and the police feel mutually supported. Our Kindergarten to 12th grade students will design and implement a campaign to build understanding, positive relationships and mutual cultural sensitivity between police and youth. Thank you, Chicago Bears!"
By The Hand is committed to serving children from Chicago's most under-resourced, dangerous neighborhoods. They work closely with school principals to identify those who are most likely to drop out—those who are failing and in critical need of intervention. Typically, they are not meeting reading standards and they often have significant hardships that require special attention to overcome. It is their vision to help each one of these children experience abundant and everlasting life. By The Hand began in 2001 with 16 children from Cabrini-Green. Since then, they have witnessed transformation within the lives of their kids—and as an organization. This year they are serving 1,523 kids from Cabrini-Green, Altgeld-Murray, Austin and Englewood. For more information, please click here.
Kicks 4 the City
Justin Johnson, Founder and Director: "We are extremely thankful and grateful for this support from The Chicago Bears! We are excited to grow with the organization, which will certainly allow us to elevate the impact we are having in our community. Since its creation in 2012, Kicks 4 the City has been fortunate to distribute over 70,000 pairs of sneakers to homeless communities nationwide. Although many of us take this for granted, a new pair of shoes can be essential to surviving the winter in a cold city like Chicago, but can also serve as a catalyst for a boost of self-confidence for a child who is less fortunate. With donations like that of the Chicago Bears, we will be equipped to continue our mission for quite some time."
Kicks 4 the City is a charitable program, powered by the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Legacy Leavers, that is committed to providing shoes for homeless communities within select cities across the U.S. and worldwide. Kicks 4 the City connects like-minded individuals who share this philanthropic spirit and provides a platform for giving back through shoe and monetary donations, volunteering and service as a K4tC Ambassador. For more information, please visit [kicks4thecity.org](visit http://www.kicks4thecity.org/).
My Block, My Hood, My City
Jahmal Cole, Founder and CEO: "We're grateful to the Chicago Bears, the NFL Foundation, Bears Care and all of the Chicago Bears players for their support. Social Justice is important work right now in our society, especially in Chicago where there isn't a level playing field. Teenagers from the south and west sides of the city are not connected to the same extent as teenagers from the north side. That's not right. At M3, we're working to expand the world views of young people to see possibilities beyond their communities and at the same time seeing their neighborhoods and blocks from an asset-based lens. Social justice is beneficial for the entire city because by having more equity and diversity, there will be more opportunities, growth and social well-being for all."
My Block, My Hood, My City (MBMHMC) provides underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. They take students on explorations focused on STEM, Arts and Culture, Citizenry and Volunteerism, Health, Community Development, Culinary Arts, and Entrepreneurism. My Block, My Hood, My City is centered on four core values: interconnectivity, empathy, hope, and civic responsibility. MBMHMC seeks for students (1) to explore by providing opportunities for others to step outside their comfort zone and explore new communities, cultures, and cuisines in an effort to gain a greater understanding of the world; (2) to experience by fully immersing in new experiences while continuously soaking up new knowledge and expanding their network; (3) to evolve to take responsibility for communities; it is only though efforts of service, empathy, and collaboration will they see communities truly evolve. For more information, please visit the MBMHMC website.
Miriam Kamya, Director of Philanthropy: "SAGA Innovations is excited to partner with the Chicago Bears players. This support will assist us in creating educational equity for the amazing students in Chicago. Our partnership will bring us closer to a world where every student has the opportunity and academic preparation to pursue their dreams."
In Chicago, SAGA serves historically under-served young people through personalized, consistent academic support that result in youth gaining confidence and academic strength so that they see, pursue and realize their grandest dreams. Its tool is high dosage tutoring -- personalized instruction from professional tutoring fellows, for one class period every day, for an entire school year. In addition to academic instruction, Fellows mentor students on the behaviors, skills, attitudes and strategies that are critical to success in high school and beyond. In addition, Fellows communicate regularly with families, keeping them engaged in their children's learning. The University of Chicago Urban Labs has been conducting rigorous evaluations of SAGA, and describes their findings as "remarkable" because they have found that SAGA-tutored students gain an extra one to two and a half years of learning above and beyond their regular school year growth. For more information, please click here.
YWCA Lake County
Treopia L. Cannon, President/CEO: "We are thrilled and at the same time grateful to the Chicago Bears players, the Bears organization and Bears Care for this incredible opportunity to collaborate on a crucial issue such as social justice. Through our partnership, we aim to be a leading voice in Lake County in breaking down barriers that lead to racial, social and economic justice in our communities. The Bears' generous support for social justice philanthropy is very timely. It brings hope and optimism as we work to transform our communities into inclusive, humane, respectful and decent places where individuals and families could live and thrive. This is YWCALC's mission and we are proud to work with the Bears in shining a light on this critical issue that's impacting us in so many levels."
YWCA Lake County stands up for social justice, helps families and strengthens the Lake County community. They resolve to fix the issues that hold their community back. They do all this, guided and driven by their mission: YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. For more information, please visit the YWCA website.