During the 2018 season, Patriots players started a social justice fund to collectively provide support for organizations in New England focused on social justice and racial equality, including in the areas of education, economic development, police relations and criminal justice. The fund has been renewed and funded in each of the 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons by players, coaches and staff and matched – up to $250,000 – by ownership.
Last year, the fund contributed more than $500,000 to eight New England-based organizations. This year, Patriots players, coaches and staff, with a match from the Kraft family and also the NFL, raised more money than ever before, distributing $560,000 to 11 organizations.
Since the fund's inception, Patriots players have donated just under $2 million to local organizations doing impactful and challenging work in our region. In addition to the large grants, each year the players have retained a "slush fund" to react quickly to immediate needs.
Five organizations will receive $100,000 each and six will receive $10,000 each. Members of the 2021 Player Social Justice Committee notified the $100,000 organizations via surprise Zoom calls in January.
The primary fund recipients are:
Boston Medical Center has been working with the City and State to address the ongoing public health crisis at Mass & Cass, where there is an urgent need for clinical and housing services as soon as possible. In addition to providing low-threshold transitional housing, BMC will provide clinically-focused services in order to meet the needs of the most acute individuals at the encampments, complementing the other housing-focused programs being opened by the State and City.
These clinical services are aimed at providing important individual support that will continue as people move from one location to the next, and focus on the recovery services of addiction and mental illness as these are powerful underlying issues of this crisis. The player's donation to BMC is unrestricted but earmarked for these clinical services.
Visible Hands Accelerator Fund is a Boston-based pre-seed accelerator and investment fund that invests in the most talented BIPOC and women across the US to support them in building transformational technology companies.
Women and founders of color often lack access to capital and social networks to get their companies off the ground. An analysis of the top 100 US venture firms between 2018 and 2019 found that only 10.7% of their funding went to women founders, a very small percentage of which were women of color. White entrepreneurs dominated, capturing 71.6% of the funding, followed by Asian founders at 25.2%, Black founders at 1.7% and Latinx founders at 1.3%.
Phase I of Visible Hands' approach is a pre-idea accelerator – a 3-month program where participants are supported to transform their ideas into companies. Participants receive a $25,000 stipend, mentorship, networking and other resources.
Artists for Humanity provides under-resourced teens the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. AFH is built on the philosophy that engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people.
Bridging economic, racial and social divisions, AFH enriches urban communities by introducing young people's creativity to the business community. AFH provides teens with jobs with wages, opportunities to create fine art and design solutions, intensive mentorship, introduction to exciting career possibilities, experiential arts and STEM learning and a fun, productive after school haven.
Working on Womanhood (WOW) is the companion program to Becoming A Man (BAM), both operated by Youth Guidance.
WOW is a school-year-long group counseling and clinical mentorship program. WOW works to improve social-emotional competencies for girls in 7th – 12th grade exposed to traumatic stressors in high risk and under-resourced communities.
Using a trauma-informed approach, WOW targets young women with significant risk factors for dropout or delinquency such as teenage pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse, self-harm, gang involvement, fighting, academic failure and discipline referrals. Participants are identified through referrals by teachers, school administrators and parents.
Innercity Weightlifting has evolved into a community and support network as well as a source of education, job-training and employment in personal training for young people who have been incarcerated and/or connected to street gangs. ICW started with four students and has grown to serve hundreds.
ICW's unique solution to the nationwide problem of gang-related violence focuses on working with the young people characterized as the highest risk population for violence. ICW's goal is to empower its students and give them the connections and tools to say no to violence and yes to opportunity.
Once at the gym, ICW students work on obtaining GEDs, personal training certifications and making positive connections.
Additional donations were made to:
New England Innocence Project fights to correct and prevent wrongful convictions and combats injustice within the criminal justice system for innocent people imprisoned for a crime they did not commit in the six New England states. NEIP provides free forensic testing, investigation, experts and an experienced legal team to exonerate the innocent and bring them home to their loved ones. It also uses its expertise about wrongful convictions to provide education and advocate for legislative and judicial reforms.
Posse Foundation works with students and college campuses and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. Posse's primary aim is to train these leaders of tomorrow.
Posse has three goals: to expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds; to help these institutions build more interactive campus environments so that they can be more welcoming for people from all backgrounds; to ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.
Year Up! was founded in Boston and is now nationwide. Year Up's mission is to close the "Opportunity Divide" by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education.
The organization ensures equitable access to economic opportunity, education and justice for young adults no matter their background, income or zip code.
Employers face a growing need for talent while millions of talented young adults lack access to meaningful careers. This creates an "opportunity gap". Year Up! addresses that gap by providing targeted skills training and connections to livable wage employment for students and alumni; empowering others to serve and support young adults; and changing the systems that create the gap.
Civics Unplugged empowers Gen Z leaders with the training, funding and network they need to build a brighter future for humanity. CU trains young leaders to create better systems to change significant issues in the world and to be behind actual policy change.
Twice a year, CU funds a Fellowship program that trains 500 high school-aged leaders around the world to become civic innovators. Fellowship graduates then join an alumni community that provides lifelong opportunities for specialized training, funding, internship and work opportunities, and mentorship to pursue their civic aspirations.
Future Chefs prepares teens for successful life and work after high school. Teens work in the Future Chefs kitchen (a storefront in Dorchester) and use the training they receive there as a foundation for a broad range of academic and professional careers.
Future Chefs believes that the life skills and knife skills learned in the kitchen can be applied meaningfully in all avenues of life.
The Food Project's mission is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a more just and sustainable food system.
The Food Project community empowers and equips youth leaders, grows and distributes fresh, healthy, affordable food in the city and the suburbs, and inspires and supports others to create change in their communities.
Each year, The Food Project hires 120 teens, grows 200,000 pounds of food and donates more than 180,000 servings of fresh produce to hunger relief organizations across Eastern MA.
Over the past several years, the players have supported the following organizations:
2018-2020 Players' Fund Recipients:
- ACLU of MA (civil rights)
- BECMA (support for Black-owned businesses)
- Boston Healthcare for the Homeless (homelessness)
- Boston Uncornered (education/jobs/wraparound support for gang-involved individuals)
- Bridge Over Troubled Waters (youth homelessness)
- Codman Square Community Health Center (community-based healthcare)
- Commonwealth Kitchen (resources/support for minority-owned food businesses)
- Lovin' Spoonfuls (addressing food waste and food insecurity)
- MBK617 (youth empowerment)
- Minds Matter (mentorship for college-bound youth)
- New Commonwealth Fund (support for Black-lead non-profits)
- Posse Foundation (education scholarships and support)
- ROCA (re-entry support for formerly incarcerated individuals)
- Rosie's Place (support for impoverished women)
- The ELISHA Project (addressing food insecurity)
- United South End Settlements (support for low-income families in the South End, Boston)
- UTEC (education/jobs/wraparound support for system-involved individuals)
- We Belong (youth empowerment – connecting police and communities)
- Amos House (support for mothers dealing with addiction)
- Becoming A Man (male youth empowerment)
- Build A Life That Works (creating access and opportunities for women in the trades)
- Fathers' Uplift (reconnecting fathers with their children after incarceration/mental health support)
- Hack.Diversity (technology career opportunity for BIPOC individuals)
- Greater Boston Legal Services (eviction support services)
- Louis D. Brown Peace Institute (anti-violence/support for survivors of homicide victims/perpetrators)
- Rian Immigrant Center (support for immigrants)
- Tech Goes Home (addressing the digital divide)
- YW Boston (DEI training for non-profits)