Mi­ami Dol­phins seek to ef­fect so­cial change

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR

MI­AMI - The Mi­ami Dol­phins' top ex­ec­u­tives are giv­ing sup­port and singing the praises of the Trayvon Martin Foun­da­tion and other or­ga­ni­za­tions that are ef­fect­ing change in the com­mu­nity.

The foun­da­tion has just been rec­og­nized as one of the team's "So­cial Jus­tice" grant re­cip­i­ents, slated to re­ceive do­na­tions to con­tinue their work lo­cally and be­yond.

"We have a great re­la­tion­ship with the Trayvon Martin Foun­da­tion and we're blown away by the work they've done in chang­ing the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on gun vi­o­lence. We sup­port their ef­forts to move the con­ver­sa­tion for­ward," said Dol­phins Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent Ja­son Jenk­ins in a tele­phone in­ter­view Mon­day night.

The Mi­ami Dol­phins or­ga­ni­za­tion doesn’t want to sim­ply buy a ta­ble at a ban­quet, said Jenk­ins. He called that kind of sup­port “su­per­fi­cial.” “We want to sup­port real change,” said Jenk­ins. The Dol­phins will help sup­port the Foun­da­tion’s S.T.E.M. and Youth Em­pow­er­ment Sum­mits for 8-12th graders. More than 2,500 stu­dents through­out Florida have at­tended the event where stu­dents col­lec­tively ad­dress so­cial jus­tice is­sues in their com­mu­ni­ties and schools while also learn­ing how to pre­pare for ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

Trayvon Martin was sev­en­teen-years old in 2012 when he was gunned down by a Cen­tral Florida se­cu­rity guard, spark­ing na­tion­wide out­rage over his con­tro­ver­sial shoot­ing death. His par­ents, Sy­b­rina Ful­ton and Tracy Martin started the Foun­da­tion to honor their son's life and legacy against sense­less gun vi­o­lence.

"It's im­por­tant to our owner, Stephen Ross and our play­ers and alumni that we sup­port South Florida groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions that are af­fect­ing change. Every­one in South Florida de­serves a level play­ing field and we're grate­ful that our plat­form al­lows us to unite peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing a wide ar­ray and cross sec­tion of groups," said Jenk­ins.

The Trayvon Martin Foun­da­tion is one of eight or­ga­ni­za­tions – rep­re­sent­ing ra­cial and eth­nic groups, po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tions, youth groups, LGBTQ groups and more – that the Dol­phins are sup­port­ing with so­cial jus­tice grants.

The ad­di­tional grant re­cip­i­ents in­clude: Ur­ban League of Broward County; Art De­tec­tives; Com­mu­nity Jus­tice Project, Inc.; Mi­ami Gar­dens Po­lice Depart­ment; North Mi­ami Beach Po­lice Ath­letic League; Pride­lines; SAVE; and Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Black Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers (NOBLE).

NOBLE South Florida Chap­ter Pres­i­dent Ti­mothy Belcher said the part­ner­ship with the Mi­ami Dol­phins would as­sist their or­ga­ni­za­tion in build­ing stronger re­la­tion­ships with youth in Mi­ami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach coun­ties.

The ad­di­tional grant an­nounce­ments fol­low news that the Dol­phins have en­tered into a long-term part­ner­ship, cen­ter­ing on so­cial jus­tice, ed­u­ca­tion and po­lice and youth re­la­tions. The cor­ner­stones of the part­ner­ship will see the Dol­phins host the 5000 Role Models Po­lice and Youth Con­fer­ence and a Col­lege Aca­demic Sign­ing Day for Wil­son Schol­ars at Hard Rock Sta­dium.

In ad­di­tion, the Dol­phins will con­tinue pre-ex­ist­ing pro­grams with the 5000 Role Models of Ex­cel­lence Project, founded by Con­gress­woman Fred­er­ica Wil­son, and am­plify new events. In all, these so­cial jus­tice com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives will im­pact more than 10,000 Role Models.

These ini­tia­tives are in ad­di­tion to Dol­phins pre­vi­ous work in this space through the team’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ross Ini­tia­tive in Sports for Equal­ity (RISE). Founded and cre­ated by Ross in 2015, RISE har­nesses the uni­fy­ing power of sports to im­prove race re­la­tions and drive so­cial progress. To learn more about RISE, visit rise­towin.org.

"We're stew­ards of the com­mu­nity and we wanted to show that we have a fo­cus on equal­ity, hu­man­ity and ci­vil­ity. We want to help these or­ga­ni­za­tions with their spe­cific pro­grams and raise aware­ness of their spe­cific goals, " said Jenk­ins.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MI­AMI DOL­PHINS

Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Stephen Ross with Role Model at RISE Tail­gate.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF MI­AMI DOL­PHINS

SO­CIAL JUS­TICE: Ja­son Jenk­ins ad­dresses au­di­ence while, above, Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Stephen Ross poses with young men from RISE.

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