As part of their commitment to social justice efforts, the Cleveland Browns visited EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute on Wednesday in Cleveland.
Founded in 2007, EDWINS gives formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in the culinary/hospitality industry while providing a support network necessary to their long-term success. Its mission is to teach a skilled and in-demand trade in the culinary arts, empower willing minds through passion for hospitality management and prepare students for a successful transition home.
Browns tight ends Orson Charles and Seth DeValve, defensive lineman Carl Davis, linebacker Christian Kirksey and offensive lineman Kendall Lamm made the trip to the institute's butcher shop on Buckeye Road before journeying over to the institute itself in Shaker Square.
"Everybody deserves a second chance, and I think there's a lot of people that are wrongly incarcerated," Browns tight end Seth DeValve said Wednesday. "The difficulties that they face when they get out are probably unfairly stacked against them, so we're trying to help those people that deserve a second chance get a second chance. Make job security more attainable for them once they do get out, and help give them the tools to have a successful life when the time comes."
Players visited students at the Cleveland elementary school and emphasized the importance of good attendance in school on the path to future success. Take a look at the photos from the visit made by Greg Joseph, Kendall Lamm, Orson Charles, Jaelen Strong and Chomps.
EDWINS was identified by Browns players and the Browns social equality committee, which is comprised of players and team executives, as a program the team would like to assist. They did so Wednesday in touring the facility, visiting with institute students and finally, presenting a $75,000 donation from the Browns and players through the NFL's team-player social justice matching funds program.
"This is really big," EDWINS founder, president and CEO Brandon Edwin Chrostowski said. "It means a lot because it's the first organization here in town or any town for that matter, sports-related, to stand behind this mission that we serve, which is every human being, regardless of their past, has the right to a fair and equal future. We don't see that oftentimes in the sports world and the Cleveland Browns really stepped up to the plate, so $75,000 really helps us strengthen our program, expand what we're doing here on Buckeye and continue to be a safe place, an equal place for someone coming out of prison."
EDWINS operates a French cuisine restaurant in Shaker Square as well as a campus a few blocks away that includes a butcher shop and market, free on-campus living for students and alumni, a shop for students and alumni to purchase donated clothing items, a library and a weight room. The $75,000 donation will also help the institute expand to add a bakery and improve both its instruction of students and chances of its graduates to land stable jobs in the culinary arts industry.
"It's going to help them sustain their profits, sustain their non-profit and what they're doing, it's going to raise how many jobs they can offer to people and it's also going to make their living spaces that much more enjoyable," DeValve said.