Way back in 2017, when several Detroit Lions players demonstrated during the National Anthem to protest against police brutality, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford committed to supporting some of the players’ important social causes as long as the players agreed to halt their protests during the anthem.
“Mrs. Ford has come forward and said that as long a we compromise as a team and unify and make a unified demonstration, she’ll back us financially,” former Lions running back Ameer Abdullah said back in October 2017.
Since then, the Lions went out and created something called the “Lions Pride in the Community” which supported three player-supported causes.
But this offseason, the Lions appear to be taking that two-year-old promise to an entirely new level. On Monday, the Lions announced a massive program simply called “Detroit Lions Inspire Change.” Based on Monday’s launch, the project supports at least eight different programs focused on three different social issues: scholarship funding, social-education programs and medical aid/health assistance.
“Expanding upon our commitment to influencing social justice reform was a primary goal for our organization this season,” Ford said via a written statement on the program’s official website. “With the support of our players, who over the years have demonstrated a longstanding devotion to serving this community in which they live and work, we have successfully established the foundation of what we expect to be a multi-year platform in Detroit. I am grateful for the players’ participation in these important discussions happening right now in our country.”
Here’s a look at the eight programs supported by the organization, as selected by players of the team:
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
Offers supports and financial aids to those grieving from the loss of someone in the Armed Forces.
Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative: The Brotherhood & Sisterhood
A youth development program within the Detroit Police Department that educates and motivates children to pursue excellence, transform culture and build resilience.
Detroit Lions Academy
A youth program (grades 6-8) that enrolls children that “have faced challenge learning and engaging in traditional education settings.”
Detroit Justice Center
A non-profit organization built to help transform the justice system. The program seeks to help complete the rehabilitation of former inmates, keeping them out of jail, assisting them in holding steady jobs and helping out their support system.
Covenant House of Michigan
Non-profit organization targeted to provide shelter and other vital resources to homeless, and runaway children aged 18-24.
Detroit Public Schools Founday’s Water Hydration Station Project
Program designed to install hydration stations to provide clean, lead-free water to schools in need.
CATCH Charity for Children
Program started by former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson that helps improve the quality of life for sick and injured children.
A “full-service treatment center” for those suffering from substance-abuse addictions and homeless men in Southeast Detroit.
The Lions announced Martha Ford and the players have combined for an “initial” $600,000 commitment to these causes and promised this program will “evolve in 2020 and beyond.” Please go to their new website to see the entirety of this impressive new endeavor.