It started 2017 as an effort to create lasting change. And in the two-plus years since Seahawks players came together to form their Equality & Justice for All Action Fund, real change has indeed taken place through yearly grants given to local nonprofit organizations.
This month, the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund awarded its third round of grants, giving more than $237,000 to five local nonprofits and four area schools. Dating back to 2017, the Players Action Fund has awarded more than $547,000 in grants to 24 organizations and schools. The latest round of grants ranged from $12,500 to $50,000, and were given to the following organizations:
- DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women's Network)
- Seattle Clemency Project
- Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
- The Residency
"When we started this fund, it was all directed to helping people around the community and make change," said linebacker K.J. Wright. "It's cool that every year we're able to donate a good chunk of change to those in need. We picked five special groups in the community that we're passionate about to help out."
In addition to those five organizations, four grants were given to area schools in partnership with the Players Coalition:
- Aki Kurose Middle School
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School
- Northgate Elementary School
- Rising Star Elementary School
The Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund is a donor-advised fund housed at the Seattle Foundation, with players working in partnership with the Seattle Foundation to identify organizations working in the areas of equality, justice, education and leadership.
The Players Equality & Justice For All Action fund was formed amidst a tumultuous stretch of the 2017 season in which players were protesting racial inequality during the national anthem, leading to backlash from some, including the President of the United States, who referred to a protesting NFL player as being a "son of a (expletive)." With the NFL suddenly the center of a major controversy, Seahawks players got together and decided to, as former receiver Doug Baldwin put it at the time, "do something actionable."
"We wanted to use our platform as athletes," Wright said. "We're passionate about a lot of things, and we have an influence, so we wanted to use our platform and our influence to put our stamp on something and make a difference. We know that if we invest in people, then it can only make the community and the country better, so that's our main goal… It starts with someone saying something, it starts with addressing the issue, then we go from there to where we're putting dollars to the cause. That money can go a long way toward helping people out. It's all about taking it in steps, and we're taking the right steps to make change."
More information on the five organizations receiving grants can be found below:
SEATTLE CLEMENCY PROJECT
Seattle Clemency Project (SCP) was started in 2016 as a way to provide access to justice for some of the most forgotten and misunderstood members of society – reformed prisoners who are serving extremely long sentences and refugees who are facing deportation due to decades-old criminal convictions in Washington State. SCP strives to address the systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities found within the criminal justice system by matching pro bono attorneys with clients, many of whom face life sentences due to the state's Three Strikes legislation and lack of parole, to help them file for clemency with the governor. In just under four years, SCP has matched 113 prisoners and 15 refugees with pro bono attorneys; represented 4 clients who were sentenced to excessive sentences as juveniles; secured freedom for 17 individuals, 11 of whom were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole; and saved 8 individuals from being deported. Each petition takes 80-100 hours to prepare, translating to about $3 million generated in pro bono legal services. Seattle Clemency Project is paving the way toward a more just and humane criminal justice system in Washington.
Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN) supports, empowers and shelters survivors of domestic abuse in South King County and beyond, while helping to keep us all safe by educating our community to respond to and prevent violence. Since our inception as Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN) in 1980, DAWN has helped over 400,000 women, children and men through a holistic support system that not only protects them in immediate crises but empowers them and us all to prevent violence and create respectful and safe communities. All of our programs are provided free of charge. Some of these life-saving programs include mobile, legal, children, and immigrant advocacy programs; 24/7 advocacy hotline, prevention programming, emergency confidential shelter, and mental health therapy to name a few. We are the only nonprofit organization in South King County that focuses all of its resources and expertise solely on empowering survivors to be free of domestic violence today and on preventing violence from affecting our community for generations. Additionally, DAWN is one of the few confidential emergency shelters in the county, and one of the few who also accepts pets. Every survivor who turns to us for help finds safety, support and empowerment for building a better life. DAWN also considers itself a social justice organization who continues to advocate for the change of systematic and institutional barriers that affect marginalized populations and individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
• #1 cause of homelessness for women and children in King County is domestic violence
• For every 1 DV survivor family that qualifies for emergency confidential domestic abuse shelter in King County, 57 are turned away due to lack of space
• In 2018, DAWN served 1,248 people (202 children) unduplicated, provided 9,476 safe shelter nights, took 5,700 calls on our advocacy hotline, and provided 4,789 total hours of community advocacy services
• 65% of our clients are low income, 25% identified as Hispanic, 26% identified as Black, and 14% of folks identified as ethnicities other than white/Caucasian. 17% identified as immigrant/refugee and 18% spoke English as a second language.
Founded in 1988 by social workers, Treehouse is Washington's leading nonprofit organization addressing the academic and other essential support needs of more than 8,000 youth in foster care. We're committed to youth in care statewide achieving a degree or other career credential, living wage job and stable housing at the same rate as their peers. With fierce optimism, we fight the structural inequities that impact all of us.
URBAN LEAGUE OF METROPOLITAN SEATTLE
Founded in 1930, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle is the second-oldest civil rights organization in the state focused on closing the equity gap for African American and other underrepresented communities. With a robust staff of nearly 50 service-oriented professionals, they hold true to our mission of empowering African Americans, as well as other diverse underserved communities, to thrive by securing educational and economic opportunities. Historically led and driven by the needs of local people of color, they offer resources and services in housing, education, and workforce development that
impact more than 5,000 individuals and families every year.
The Residency seeks to build a powerful community of young hip-hop artists equipped with the artistic and leadership skills, business acumen, and mentorship necessary to become professional artists and cultural change makers. The program launched in July 2015 as a collaboration between Museum of Pop Culture, Arts Corps, and Grammy award winning artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
The Residency focuses on four core pillars:
•Social Justice: Using art as activism, to create change
•Youth Development: Helping young people develop their identity, voice and self confidence
•The Craft: Helping young artists develop their skills and technical ability
•The Industry: Giving our students resources and knowledge to navigate the music business and creative industry
Each year they serve 45 aspiring young artists, ages 16-19, who come from low income backgrounds across the Puget Sound region.
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner hosted 100 children from local youth organizations for a holiday shopping spree, giving each child in attendance gift cards so they could complete all of their holiday shopping needs. Wagner was joined by Blitz and several of Wagner's teammates, including K.J. Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Shaquill Griffin, Ugo Amadi, and Emmanuel Ellerbee, came out to get in on the holiday shopping fun.
Bobby Wagner is also the Seahawks nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, for his outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Fans can vote for Bobby Wagner by heading to Twitter and using #WPMOYChallenge followed by Wagner. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice.