Seahawks players have made their voices heard on the topics of injustices and inequality, both through protest and through their words. And many of them have been taking action for a long time in the work they do in the community. Now, as a team, players are taking action as a unified group, announcing Friday the launch of the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund.
"In an effort to create lasting change and build a more compassionate and inclusive society, we are launching the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice. We invite you to join us in donating and taking action."—The Players of the Seattle Seahawks
As the above statement from the players says, this is a tangible way for individuals or businesses to make a difference fighting injustice and inequality by supporting leadership and education programs. Those who would like to donate can do so at Seahawks.com/ActionFund. The fund will be housed at the Seattle Foundation, a nonprofit that manages nearly $1 billion in philanthropic investments. An advisory board, comprised of players, team leadership and business and community leaders will be formed in the coming week to steward the fund and determine how grants will be allocated to nonprofits.
"First, we wanted to do something actionable, we wanted to have an action item," Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. "We've had a lot of requests from people outside of the building of, 'How can I help, where can I donate, how can I do my part?' So we wanted to give them a place to do that, but also players have an opportunity to do so as well. Then secondly, we wanted to have a central, unified effort, really allowing the name to speak for itself. It started here with the Seattle Seahawks players, the organization itself, and all the funds go to important programs for equality and justice, and it's an action fund to put things into action. I thought it was really comprehensive, and a very collaborative effort on the part of a lot of guys in the locker room."
The Seahawks elected to sit out the national anthem as a team last week to make a unified statement against inequality and injustice, so coming up with a unified action item was also important as the next step.
"I think that was really important, because for the longest time now, we've been trying to figure out, what can we do as a team to impact change?" Baldwin said. "And this is something that's really tangible to all of us. And again, we really wanted this to be a unified effort. We've been trying to make a unified demonstration, a unified message, and now this is a unified action we can all take. And now we're going to be able to incorporate people outside of the building."
Added cornerback Richard Sherman: "I think it's imperative. The way things are, you want to be a shining example of what things could and how people could come together, and how it looks when people do come together and unite as one, and don't look at skin color, don't look at gender, don't look at anything but the quality of someone's character. We're trying to do our best to be that example.
"Our team wanted to do something that made a difference, we wanted to make a tangible difference. Enough words have been said, enough actions have been shown, and we want to go out there and help as many people as we can who have been affected by divisiveness and inequality."
And while last week's protests around the league brought more attention to the issues at hand, this isn't a new conversation for the Seahawks, who have been having serious talks about injustice and inequality, as well as the best ways to address those issues, dating back to last summer when Colin Kaepernick first protested during the anthem.
"We've been talking about this for a while," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "We've got a lot of leaders on our team and we just want to lead by example. Yeah, we're talking about it, but we're also putting some action behind it. We truly believe that's the way to go about it."
The Seahawks have made their voices heard, and as head coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week, "moving forward, it's about making a difference." Through the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund, players plan on making that difference.
"This is the time, when is a better time than now to change the future?" defensive end Michael Bennett said. "Now is when we act; we can't wait until things get so bad that it's too late to change."
The Seattle Foundation, using its philanthropic expertise, deep roots in the community and network of partners, will help the Seahawks Players Equality and Justice for All Action Fund to develop targeted strategies to increase equality and justice in the community through effective education and leadership programs.
"The leadership demonstrated by the Seahawks players is a powerful example of authentic action in creating greater equality and justice in our communities," said Tony Mestres, president and CEO of Seattle Foundation. "We share the Seahawks players' commitment to building a more compassionate and inclusive community that increases social justice and opportunity."
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- Pete Carroll On Seahawks' Protest: "If We're Going To Move Forward, We Have To Listen To The Message That's Being Screamed At Us About Inequality"
- Seahawks On Protesting Inequality: "Moving Forward, It's About Making A Difference"