(FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings have announced the team's 2020 commitments to social justice initiatives, including the first $1 million in donations and investments of the $5 million pledged by ownership in June. This season, the Vikings will commit $1 million toward launching initiatives or expanding existing initiatives in three areas: voter registration, education and curriculum on Black history and racism and law enforcement and criminal justice reform.
VOTING: This election cycle, the Vikings are collaborating with the Minnesota Secretary of State to encourage fans to safely vote. Along with various player-led content on Vikings.com, the team will also be providing personal protective equipment for polling workers.
EDUCATION: In 2016 the Minnesota Vikings became the first NFL team to partner with Everfi, an education and technology company, to bring 306 Black History to some Minnesota classrooms. 306 Black History teaches kids through the stories of Black men and women who overcame obstacles through “grit, strength, creativity and intellect.” Started in 12 classrooms in 2016, the program will be expanded to 24 this year.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: The team will also expand its involvement in All Square, a nonprofit that ensures formerly incarcerated individuals have the support and resources they need to become leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs.
GEORGE FLOYD SCHOLARSHIP: With a $125,000 endowment provided by the Vikings following the death of George Floyd, the team created the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. This inagural winner is Mimi Kol-Balfour a graduate of Minneapolis Southwest High School. Kof-Balfour is attending Barnard College this fall.
CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS: In partnership with RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), the Vikings will host a series of Critical Conversation sessions with Minnesota high school athletic programs to help address issues of race and injustice.
PROJECT SUCCESS: In 2019, the Vikings partnered with Project Success, a Minneapolis-based organization focused on helping kids develop life-skills, support and confidence so they are more successful and engaged during high school and more prepared for life after graduation. The two organizations took 50 students of color from Minneapolis, along with Vikings running backs CJ Ham and Ameer Abdullah and safety Anthony Harris, to Washington, DC, for a special experience that included a visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The trip was to be replicated in 2020, but due to COVID-19, this year’s plan will be a day-long virtual experience and the Vikings and Project Success plan to return to DC in 2021.
INCREASED INVESTMENTS: In addition to these initiatives, the Vikings are also increasing the team’s investment in and involvement with the following groups:
- Hennepin County & Ramsey County juvenile detention centers
- Jeremiah Program
- The Link
- Page Education Foundation
- People Serving People
“We are proud of the foundation Vikings players have established over the last several years, actively engaging our community, but we are all aware of the imperative work that needs to continue,” Vikings owner Mark Wilf said in a statement. “We are unified in working to create meaningful and substantial change and believe these initiatives will help move us forward.”