Lions announce recipients of social justice initiative

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions announced a list of 11 grantees for the team's social justice initiative Thursday. 

Launched nearly two years ago after a year of planning, the Detroit Lions Inspire Change Fund is a joint effort, backed by both players and team ownership, to support local organizations positively impacting the community through health and medical assistance, scholarship funding and social/educational programs. 

The Detroit Lions announced a list of 11 grantees for the team's social-justice initiative Thursday.

“The challenges of this past year have highlighted the social injustices and economic inequalities that still exist in Detroit and throughout our entire country," owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. "This year, more than ever, the Detroit Lions have deepened our commitment to playing an active role in paving a path toward a more equitable society. Our players and coaches have utilized their platforms to engage in thoughtful dialogue and have taken tangible action to drive change. We are proud of this collective effort and are committed to carrying this work forward to reduce barriers to opportunity and leveling the playing field in 2021 and beyond."

The team will contribute $490,000 to the 11 organizations, with a focus on those supporting families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those contributions will bring the program's three-year total to $1.69 million. 

“Through Inspire Change, we have been able to impact the local community in a personal way," captain and Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Trey Flowers said in a statement. "We understand that as an organization and as human beings, we must do our due diligence to inspire and uplift each other while we can. Our initiative helps those in need and provides a reminder of what society needs us all to do — and that is to give back."

Below are the 11 grantees: 

► Henry Ford Health System COVID-19 Emergency Needs Fund: This funding will support patients, employees or equipment/supply needs caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

► Motor City Mitten Mission: The Motor City Mitten Mission is dedicated to helping the homeless, the needy, the sick and those striving for a better way of life while educating, partnering and collaborating with a number of other organizations, schools, churches, clubs and businesses. 

► Detroit Lions Academy: The Detroit Lions Academy enrolls students in grades 6-8 who have faced challenges learning and engaging in traditional education settings. Students attending the DLA directly benefit from the Lions’ active presence within the community, including mentorship from the Detroit Lions Women’s Association and players, gaining first-hand experiences and participating in activities and programs facilitated through other Detroit Lions Charities partners.

► Detroit Public Safety Foundation — The Brotherhood & Sisterhood: The Detroit Police Department, in conjunction with Detroit Public Schools Community District, organized and designed the Brotherhood & Sisterhood program to promote positive outcomes for teens living in extremely challenging environments. The program empowers teens, ages 14-19, to build positive self-esteem, avoid violence/sexual assault, depression and suicide, and learn how to prepare for future employment. Through this funding, four scholarships will be awarded to the year-long program.

► Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): TAPS offers compassionate care to those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in our Armed Forces or as a result of his or her service. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones. 

► Detroit Justice Center: DJC is an innovative non-profit organization working alongside communities to create economic opportunities, transform the justice system and promote equitable and just cities. DJC provides desperately-needed legal services to Detroiters impacted by the criminal justice system — helping clients remain out of jail, hold onto jobs and stable housing and keep their families intact. 

► Detroit Public Schools Foundation: Within the Detroit Public Schools Community District, there are an estimated 1,000 homeless students. Funding from the Lions will supply basic needs and mental health services to homeless youth as a result of COVID-19.

► Downtown Boxing Gym: By providing mentorship, tutoring, enrichment programs, college and career readiness, socio-emotional skills building and basic needs support (transportation and food), the organization creates a lasting impact that ripples out across the community. The DBG currently serves more than 150 students between the ages of 8 and 18. 

► The Empowerment Plan: The Empowerment Plan aims to elevate families from the generational cycle of homelessness by hiring single parents from local homeless shelters and providing them training and full-time employment manufacturing sleeping bag coats for the homeless population. The organization also provides necessary resources for the seamstresses to continue their education, find permanent housing and regain their independence. 

► HAVEN – Redefine Program: This program is a 16-hour leadership development course for high school and college-aged young men to equip them with the skills to help end gender-based violence and to create healthier and happier emotional lives. During the 2019-20 school year, over 70 sessions of the Redefine program were held, with over 135 students completing the curriculum. 

► Pure Heart Foundation: Pure Heart Foundation was designed to break the cycle of generational incarceration by providing wrap around services that will strategically benefit the child of an incarcerated parent and family. Through Pure Heart, each child of an incarcerated parent has a chance to be heard, supported and encouraged to navigate life despite their circumstance.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers