Through the Browns' commitment to social justice initiatives, Browns players recently celebrated the start of Breaking New Ground's first home renovation with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM), the recent beneficiary of a $100,000 team contribution as a reflection of the NFL's Inspire Change movement. The donation is comprised of personal donations made by Browns players, as well as contributions from the team through its focus on supporting social justice causes.
Breaking New Ground, LMM's Affordable Housing Initiative, will help provide affordable and stable housing for families exiting homelessness, particularly those who are impacted by the criminal justice system. The organization's innovative rental model is structured through the purchasing and renovation of up to 20 homes in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, supported by affordable rents and connections to support services to families in need.
"It means a lot to me to be part of this organization, first and foremost," said LB Christian Kirksey. "Back home, you see a lot of people who are homeless and you always want to be a part of the change and you always want to help out whenever you can.
"Everybody has to have a helping hand, regardless of your profession and regardless of what you do," Kirksey added. "We are all a community, we are all a city and everybody plays their part. With the Browns, everybody sees us on Sunday and sees us trying to score touchdowns, make tackles and win games, but we are also out in the community and trying to be a part of the people because at the end of the day, we are all people."
LMM is the most recent local community-focused group chosen by Browns players to receive support through the NFL club matching grant program, joining the City of Cleveland Recreation Centers; EDWIN'S Leadership & Restaurant Institute; and Toward Employment. The Browns will continue to announce additional donations from players and the team that will impact other organizations that are focused on social justice efforts in the community as they are identified.
"As part of our Breaking New Ground campaign, we are tackling family homelessness and we are going to provide affordable rent and access to supportive services for our tenant families," said LMM Chair of the Board Nicole Braden Lewis. "The Browns made a major gift to our campaign and we are so thankful for the Browns support and partnership in this project."
The team's $100,000 contribution to LMM represents the marquee moment during Day 6 of the Browns Give Back's "10 Days of Giving." Throughout "10 Days of Giving," spanning Dec. 8-17, Browns players, coaches and staff will host unique community events and make special contributions to various organizations during the holiday season as part of the team's yearlong commitment to education, youth football and inspiring others through its signature First and Ten volunteer movement.
The extended week of community engagement, initially inspired by the Browns' signature #give10 First and Ten volunteer movement, has expanded in recent years to fully encompass the team's commitment to supporting school attendance in Ohio through the "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game!" Network and its yearlong efforts to enhance youth and high school football throughout the state.
During the past three years, Dee and Jimmy Haslam and a core team of Browns executives have met regularly with players to discuss and coordinate community engagement opportunities with organizations and in areas supporting social justice where players wish to make an impact. Through those discussions, Browns players identified wanting to support police-community relations, including through local Neighborhood Equality & Unity Summit discussions and collaborative visits to Cleveland Recreation Centers; addressing recidivism and creating job opportunities; and providing educational resources to students in need.
In March 2018, NFL owners approved team-based matching funds, whereby NFL clubs would match contributions, up to $250,000 annually, from current and former players to support community improvement, social justice and law enforcement relationships. This funding comes in addition to many NFL teams' ongoing financial support of local social justice initiatives.
Dee Haslam is also a member of the NFL's player-owner social justice committee, established in December 2017 with the focus of supporting programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a priority on supporting improvements in education and economic development, community and police relations and the criminal justice system. It works directly with league staff to help identify future initiatives that have both broad support and a potential for high impact, and make financial recommendations accordingly.
About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Northeast Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed. The team engages local schools and promotes education in various capacities throughout the year to help identify and remove attendance barriers and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive by monitoring attendance patterns to help understand how best to support students and schools.
Youth Football– The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.
First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. To date, nearly two million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.
About Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry:
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) is a 50 year-old non-profit providing innovative social enterprise job-training, civic engagement strategies and safety net services for the city of Cleveland and across Northeastern Ohio. LMM's mission leads to operate programs that change lives, transform communities and enliven civic engagement. For more information, visit https://www.lutheranmetro.org/.