(Photo by Julie Zeglen)
The Philadelphia Eagles are in the NFC Championship, which means it’s the perfect time for players to promote their charitable causes.
The franchise engages in a bunch of philanthropic activities throughout the year, including its Eagles Care program, through which it provides skills training and capacity-building services for a handful of local nonprofits every year. (The 2016-2017 class includes Dignity Housing, Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory and Ryan’s Case for Smiles.)
But in the past two days alone, we’ve heard about four new charitable initiatives from Eagles stars and partner nonprofits:
The Chris Long Foundation is increasing its support for aspiring college students.
The defensive end announced yesterday his foundation is teaming up with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher and Better Make Room initiatives, as well as national nonprofit Summer Search, with a campaign encouraging prospective college students to fill out the FAFSA financial aid form.
Reach Higher and Better Make Room ask high school students to consider higher education; Summer Search helps low-income teenagers prepare for and apply to college.
Long made news earlier in the season when he committed part of his entire season’s salary to Summer Search, which has a Philadelphia branch.
Summer Search Philadelphia Executive Director Sylvia Watts McKinney said the nonprofit got connected to Long through its participation in a previous Eagles Care cohort and had been planning these campaigns since the summer. The main benefit of their partnership — besides, of course, the cash — is exposure to a wider audience, according to Watts McKinney.
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But “awareness has multiple hats,” she said by phone on Thursday. Long isn’t just talking about how great Summer Search is. He’s discussing access, student debt, educational inequity in the U.S.
That exposure is priceless. It also grew unexpectedly for Summer Search, thanks to the Eagles placement in the playoffs and increased public attention on the team’s players. Call it “fortuitous.”
“Here’s the magic: Did we think a couple months ago the Eagles would be going to the Super Bowl?” Watts McKinney said. Over the course of the season, “every time I sat down and looked at the game, I went, ‘Whoa!'”
The nonprofit and foundation will continue to work together in the coming months, and Long is being honored at Summer Search’s Leadership Dinner this April.
Nick Foles, Jordan Hicks and Trey Burton are raising money to fight childhood sexual abuse.
The quarterback, linebacker and tight-end are publicly supporting Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that coordinates victim support services, with its #Give5toPCA initiative, launched on Tuesday.
The players donated a collective $50,000 and issued a call to action for Philadelphians to both give their own donations of $5 and to learn more about the scale of the issue: According to PCA, one in 10 U.S. kids are sexually abused.
— PCA (@KidAllPCA) July 5, 2017
The Eagles Autism Challenge launched its Matching Gift Drive.
The funding drive for autism research was meant to match every donation up to $25,000 through kickoff at this Sunday’s game, thanks to an unnamed season ticket holder.
But it’s already complete, in less than a day.
The fundraiser will still run until Sunday’s game, just without the match component. Donate here.
Lane Johnson is donating the proceeds of his “underdog” tees to Philly schools.
The right tackle made t-shirts mocking the Eagles’ perceived underdog status in last week’s playoff game and is subsequently donating all proceeds from sales to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. Get them here.
It's time to get these limited edition LJ65 shirts! On my site at https://t.co/AOekBupHxc & at @ChickiesnPetes Thurs 7-10pm! ALL proceeds go to @fundPHLschools! #Underdogs #LJ65 #Eagles pic.twitter.com/62x09U8xWv
— Lane Johnson (@Lanejohnson65) January 15, 2018
“Being an NFL athlete, there’s a ton of opportunities to help out in the community,” says Burton during the PCA spot.
Indeed, it’s common for NFL players to participate in charitable initiatives. But even among the Birds, the list above isn’t complete. Quarterback Carson Wentz, for example, launched his AO1 Foundation in July.
And we’d be remiss to not mention Malcolm Jenkins, who took over for former Eagle Connor Barwin as the team’s celebrity poster boy this year. Jenkins has been consistently advocating for criminal justice reform this season, through both raising a fist for most of the season and by speaking and writing publicly about it.
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