Arik Armstead has been aiming for success both on and off the field. His achievements as a member of the San Francisco 49ers were rewarded ahead of the start of free agency. Armstead, who was set to become a free agent in 2020, was signed to a five-year contract extension keeping the defensive lineman in San Francisco through the 2024 season.
Armstead was coming off of a career season in Year 5 in San Francisco. The 49ers were the only team in the league to have four players with at least 6.5 sacks. Armstead led the way with 10.0 sacks to go along with career-highs in quarterback hits (18), tackles (54), passes defended (2), forced fumbles (2) and his first-career fumble recovery in 16 games. He also added eight tackles, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble in the postseason.
"Arik's physical tools and versatility have allowed him to be highly productive in our style of defense, and we look forward to watching him take his game to an even higher level as he grows within our scheme," general manager John Lynch said in a press release. "Arik has been an impact player on the field and a difference-maker in our community, and we are excited for what the future holds for him."
While his stats were certainly a significant piece to the success of San Francisco's second-ranked defense, what he's managed to do off the field is equally, if not more, impressive. In 2019, Armstead raised over $23,000 through his production on the field. Armstead pledged his own dollars to his community with the hopes that others would join him in his strive for educational equality. Armstead pledged to donate $1,000 for every sack he tallied in 2019. Another $250 was contributed for every tackle last season. All of his efforts on the field were positioned to benefit his work involving inner city youth and their surrounding community through the Armstead Academic Project.
I thought it would be cool to do what I love while raising money for something I’m extremely passionate about. It's a win, win. The better I play, the more money I raise. It was a no-brainer. Armstead
Founded in 2015, Armstead built his foundation with the intent to positively impact public school systems by serving students and providing equality, beginning in his hometown in Sacramento County. His passion for education equality stemmed from witnessing unfavorable opportunities, or lack thereof, for fellow classmates, teammates and his own community. The importance of education was ingrained into Armstead as a youth, which is evident in his own philanthropic enterprises.
"I thought it would be cool to do what I love while raising money for something I'm extremely passionate about. For me it's a win, win really," Armstead said. "Play well and help my team win games and raise money. The better I play, the more money I raise. It was a no-brainer for me really."
Armstead is no stranger to community involvement. The defensive lineman has been an active member in the community prior to his arrival in San Francisco back in 2015. Armstead previously partnered with his local church during a holiday season to spread cheer and donate his time and resources to those in need. He also purchased over 100 toys at a local Target to give away to children at the UC Davis Medical Center.
It was then that Armstead realized he could make a larger impact not only with local youth, but within his entire community.
"I began to wonder, 'how can I make the biggest impact possible in the communities that mean the most to me,'" Armstead said. "I always want to be socially conscious, especially in regards to the disparities in our country. I strongly believe that education is a big part of that."
Armstead set out to ensure every student, no matter their socioeconomic status, would be allowed direct access to quality education through a positive learning environment and resources needed to thrive and be successful - the mission of his foundation.
But Armstead's desire for youth success wasn't limited to the classroom. In the offseason, Armstead returned to his hometown of Elk Grove, Calif. to host his annual charity weekend featuring a free youth football camp. Attendees participated in football and conditioning drills along with several of Armstead's current and former teammates. Continuing the conversation of education, students were given the opportunities of Q&A's with Armstead and his teammates to discuss not only football, but school, healthy choices and an array of topics important to youth development. His goal was to provide campers with a unique experience on the football field, as well as insight into the hard work and dedication that are needed to make it to the NFL.
Included in the weekend is his Red Carpet Gala featuring several teammates, alumni and celebrity guests to support and raise money. Teammates including Richard Sherman, Ronald Blair III, Sheldon Day, Jaquiski Tartt, Marquise Goodwin and Ahkello Witherspoon joined Armstead for the gala and silent auction, which has raised more than $100,000 in education initiatives to fund various programs.
View some of Arik Armstead's best moments since being drafted by the 49ers 17th overall in 2015.
One of the events put on by Armstead's foundation included a trip for 30 students to Levi's® Stadium. Attendees received a personal tour of the facility and joined career panels with 49ers employees about embarking on their own professional endeavors.
Going beyond the classroom, Armstead also teamed up with his fiancée, Mindy, a medical doctor, to put on a health fair for over 400 Sacramento residents. The 91Six Family Health Fair featured free services including general health screenings, behavioral health services, dental wellness checks, nutritional services and education, blood pressure monitoring, vision screenings and more. Dental and medical providers were also on hand to help support attendees with getting health coverage, finding a doctor and accessing other needed health services.
To wrap up the weekend, Armstead held a talent showcase featuring comedians, artists and musicians from around the Sacramento area to highlight the various unfamiliar talents within the city.
At the end of the day, I want my endeavors to be even more successful than my career on the field. Armstead
Armstead continues to make it his mission to help the underserved youth and community by reducing barriers to opportunity. His long-term vision includes creating a space where his community can have unlimited access to opportunities and resources to achieve higher learning, heighten creativity and lead healthy and productive lives. The defensive lineman doesn't just fund these programs, but is an active voice and presence around his community. Armstead's goal is to continue to bring awareness and support literacy efforts, while contributing to and advocating for a cause that is much bigger than the game of football.
"While of course I'm proud of my on-field accomplishments, it means a lot for me to be able to use my platform to help others in an area that's dear to me and my family," Armstead said. "At the end of the day, I want my endeavors to be even more successful than my career on the field. And this is just the start."
For more information on how to get involved with the Armstead Academic Project, visit www.arikarmstead91.com.