When the Philadelphia Eagles throw their support behind something, it gets noticed. They are the city’s most popular team and football is the country’s favorite sport. Anything they do is news, including Nick Sirianni playing the role of a wedding crasher.
But what the Eagles really excel at is using their public platform to help the community. To support autism research. To fight childhood cancer. To invest in social justice issues. And now they are turning their attention to the city’s biggest non-stop nightmare: gun violence.
The Eagles Social Justice Fund will contribute $316,600 in grants to 32 area-based nonprofits to raise awareness for the alarmingly growing homicide rate in Philadelphia. The initiative is called “Enough Keeping Score: End Philly Gun Violence” and the team developed a website to educate their fans and anyone else who doesn’t understand the predicament.
According to the City Controller’s Office, there were 562 homicides in 2021 – a 13% increase from 2020 – and 486 of them were due to gun violence. That number surpassed a city record for annual homicides dating back to at least 1960.
“It hurts to see so much heartache and suffering in our communities as a result of these senseless acts of violence,” safety Rodney McLeod said. “We are losing family members, friends, mentors, role models, and future leaders because of the gun violence in our streets. No one should ever have to live in fear of going to school, hanging out at the playground, or just walking out the front door.”
The cause was chosen by the Social Justice Leadership Council — Shaun Bradley, Dallas Goedert, Brandon Graham, Anthony Harris, Jordan Howard, Avonte Maddox, Rodney McLeod, Miles Sanders, K’Von Wallace, along with key executives like owner Jeffrey Lurie — and grants are built through one-to-one matching donations from players and the club. The committee supports a wide net of social justice issues such as poverty, mentoring, workforce development, sports-based youth development, criminal justice reform, mental health, police reform, educational equality. This year, they chose to focus on the issue of gun violence.
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Eagles Players Speak Out, Raise Awareness
Eagles players have been reduced to Zoom calls with the media due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Each one appeared on camera this week wearing a shirt reading “Enough Keeping Score.” This is an issue near and dear to many of their hearts, especially those on the Social Justice Leadership Council. Anthony Harris is one of them. He wants to see tangible change.
“We want to use our platform in a positive way,” Harris said. “Taking advantage of a bunch of people getting together and having an open dialogue about what’s going on outside of football as well — outside in our community and then just trying to find ways to make change or help impact that. And one of the ways was taking a look at what’s going on in the city with the gun violence and trying to figure out a way we can be supportive and help other organizations or parts of the community around the city that are already trying to make efforts and make impact.”
According to the City Controllers Office, the majority of those affected are black males aged 18-30. And deaths aren’t the only problem. There were 1,846 nonfatal incidents outside of the 486 fatal ones.
“Gun violence is big around the world, and definitely big in Philadelphia,” defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said. “We just feel strongly about it. You know, just being able for kids to go outside and play without even having to worry about shootings and things like that. We just encouarge to stop the gun violence.”
“I think it’s something that’s being experienced all over the country, unfortunately,” kicker Jake Elliott said. “In Philly, it’s obviously very prevalent so to be able to kind of spread awareness and put forth an initiative there I think is really, really important.”
The List: 32 Local Nonprofits Supported
The Eagles contributed to 32 area nonprofits through the “Enough Keeping Score” campaign: ACHIEVEability, Chester Community Coalition, Education Law Center, ManUpPHL, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, 100 Black Men Philadelphia, Community Legal Services, Drexel University Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, Face to Face, FathersRead 365, Frontline Dads Inc, Girls on the Run Philadelphia, MenzFit, New Leash on Life USA, Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Philadelphia Auto and Parole Inc, Philadelphia Futures, Philadelphia Youth Network, Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, Sankofa Healing Studio, Steppingstone Scholars, Summer Search Philadelphia, The Anthony Harris Foundation, United Way of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Why Not Prosper, Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, Youth Service Inc, Change Our Future Foundation, Philadelphia Youth Football Academy, Strawberry Mansion Area Renaissance Trust Corporation, Motivating Young Moms.
Lurie released the following statement: “I am inspired by our players for the way they have leveraged the Eagles Social Justice Fund this year to address one of our city’s most concerning issues — gun violence. I stand with them in their efforts and am grateful for those who have joined us in helping to create safer, more equitable communities for all Philadelphians to live in peacefully.”