The San Francisco 49ers today announced a commitment to award $5 million in grants over the next 10 years to local and national social justice organizations working to create societal change in the Bay Area. This grant initiative extends the $1 million awarded by the team to 10 social justice organizations in September 2020 that resulted in measurable positive change for individuals in the Bay Area and throughout California.
Today's announcement follows a year that saw 49ers-backed social justice organizations shepherd four criminal justice reform bills signed into law in California, free or exonerate five people, and reduce the statewide inmate total by 22,000 to the lowest number in three decades. The grants from the 49ers have also provided mentoring and leadership development sessions to high school students, meals to over 3,200 families experiencing food insecurity, job training, and financial empowerment sessions, and expanded staff and services for multiple grantees.
"We initiated this grant program last year to empower organizations working on the front lines of the battle for racial equality to deliver positive impacts for individuals throughout our community," said Jed York, 49ers CEO. "Our resolve to be a force for change has been strengthened during that time by the relationships our organization has developed with these organizations and the obvious need for continued investment in more programs like these."
One such organization, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, has hosted monthly virtual mentoring sessions for young mentees with 49ers General Manager John Lynch and other members of the 49ers player personnel department for the last year. During the offseason, the mentees built an entire program, now dubbed the Mentor Opportunity League (MOL), around these sessions, where they hosted their own "Draft" and chose leadership teams for the 49ers Wisdom Sessions. Last night marked the first in-person mentoring session for the area high school and college students in the program as Lynch and the personnel department were joined by 49ers players for a 90-minute leadership and mentoring session at Levi's® Stadium.
"Simply put, if it were not for faithful support from invested partners like the 49ers, the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area would not exist," said Muhammad A. Nadhiri, Former Chairman, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. "The funding they provide is essential to the work we do to make a difference in the lives of the young men with whom we work. It also helps us address real issues with educational and personal development, poverty and hunger, and general feelings around finding one's place in society. We look forward to seeing all this partnership can do to support our community."
Full details on the next round of grant qualifications will be released later in the NFL season, but eligible non-profit organizations will once again need to focus on the areas of racial equality in policing, ending mass incarceration, or educational and economic advancement for young black people. The RFP submission and review process will take place in the first quarter of 2022 and the final election of funds will be determined by the 49ers representatives on the Players Social Justice Council: Azeez Al-Shaair, Arik Armstead, George Kittle, Alex Mack, Mike McGlinchey, Emmanuel Moseley, Taybor Pepper, Fred Warner.
In addition to players, the organization's community impact staff will continue to lead other select staff members in participating in the next round of the grant process. In 2020, over a dozen 49ers staff members joined the grant review process, including members of the organization's Black employee resource group.
The 10 organizations selected last year to receive grants from the 49ers were the following: 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, African American Community Service Agency, Californians for Safety and Justice, Dream Corps, Empower Initiative, Operation HOPE Inc., PICO California, SPAAT, The Innocence Project, and the Players Coalition. Each of the non-profits will be eligible to apply for the new round of grant funds.