The New England Patriots’ 2020 season was more than just Coronavirus disruptions and inconsistent play en route to a disappointing 7-9 record. The team also was actively engaged behind the scenes, conducting weekly meetings to discuss social and racial inequality issues and setting up a fund to support local initiatives.
As part of this process, the Patriots’ players made an $85,000 donation to the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund in January.
The fund was created last year in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, and is supporting nonprofits working in a variety of fields — from policing reform, to criminal justice reform, to health care equity and economic empowerment, to youth education and civic engagement. Its basic goal is to help funnel money towards nonprofit organizations working under minority leadership.
“We can give here and still spread our wings further,” said Devin McCourty, a member of the steering committee of the Patriots Players Social Justice Fund, told the Boston Globe.
The team’s players were not the only ones to recently support New Commonwealth; franchise owner Robert Kraft also made a sizable donation. Kraft gave one million dollars, according to the Globe’s Shirley Leung, which is the largest donation from an individual the fund has received so far.
“My dad and my brothers and I, we feel so strongly about the potential and power of this fund,” said the president of Kraft Family Philanthropies, Josh Kraft. “It starts at the top with great leadership ... Whenever great leaders come together to do something to make the community better, you have to support it.”
The $1 million dollar donation adds to the $30 million that have already been raised by New Commonwealth since last July. The goal, according to the fund’s leadership, is to raise a total of $100 million which would then be disbursed over several years to create a steady flow of resources to the nonprofits. The first batch of grants was already given out in November, meanwhile, with $1 million being spread across 20 organizations.
The initial payout was made to benefit nonprofits focused on addressing the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on communities in and around Boston. The recent donation made by the Kraft Family will now help further strengthen the fund.
“It is a statement gift,” said Kraft. “One million dollars, hopefully, might inspire others to see the seriousness of systemic racism ... not put a Band-Aid on it, but to do something lasting.”