Actions speak louder than words, as the old adage goes.
Dolphins Wide Receiver Isaiah Ford and his team created the 'Be the Change' scholarship fund, a pathway for a Black student-athlete to pursue higher education. The GoFundMe page is only $1,300 short of the $5,000 goal in which all proceeds will go towards providing scholarships for college-bound Black student-athletes from Westside High School in Ford's hometown of Jacksonville, FL.
"My parents instilled this into me at an early age – it's not about what you say, it's what you do," Ford said. "That's been reiterated to me throughout my life in everything I've done, whether it's being a good person or in my profession. I want to be able to say that I tried to help my community or I tried to make a difference."
Ford conceptualized the idea during the protests and push for change against systemic racism and police brutality. When it came time to choose the school, Ford had options, including his alma mater.
"When it came time to pick a school – and I went to Trinity Christian Academy – I felt like if I did this school that's only a five minute walk from my house in Jacksonville, Florida, that it would hold more value," Ford said. "It would go to someone that was probably less privileged. Not to say there aren't underprivileged kids at Trinity Christian, but being there gives you a better opportunity to be more prepared to succeed in the future than going to the neighborhood school."
To qualify as eligible, Westside High School student-athletes must satisfy the following criteria:
- Base 3.0 GPA
- Received a college acceptance letter
- Write a 1-2 page paper answering a question chosen by Ford himself
"It'll be something like, 'what do you want your legacy to be,' or 'what do you aspire to be,'" Ford said.
A final five will be chosen to write the essay from which Ford will chose the winner.
The support system around Ford both in his youth and today have been critical elements to his development as well as the selection of the accomplished student-athlete. Ford's mother is a teacher at Westside High School and will aid in the selection of the five finalists.
The GoFundMe account can be found here.
"I would encourage everyone to donate," Ford said. "I challenge you to come up with something yourself. Think of ways that you could help be the change. Whether that's in your community or wherever you think you can make that impact. And don't think any [amount] is not enough. Anything can help; nothing is too little. That would be my challenge is to encourage people to put down the phone and put away the [social media] posts and take action."