MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins announced the creation of the Football Unites Captains Program, a diversity and inclusion initiative that will bring 80 to 100 middle school students from various backgrounds together once a month for a day of learning about tolerance, acceptance and leadership. Dolphins players and alumni will join these students to share their stories, perspectives and experiences. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) will assist with programming and program evaluation.
Participating students will come from the following organizations: The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, youth from the Israeli Consulate in Miami, North Miami PAL, North Miami Beach PAL and the Greater Miami Pop Warner Tamiami Colts Jr. Varsity football program.
"We are excited to launch the Football Unites Captains Program with the goal of stimulating conversations, encouraging inclusivity and uniting our South Florida youth," Miami Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications & Community Affairs Jason Jenkins said. "We look forward to bringing these young people together to take part in programming from RISE in conjunction with other events designed to celebrate diversity, explore our commonalties and drive social progress."
The Football Unites Captains Program events will include:
- August 12 – Attending Miami Dolphins training camp practice to welcome students to the program
- September 16 – Launch of the program with RISE
- October 9 – Community service project and dinner
- November 18 – Football Unites: Cultural Tour
- December 2 – Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills game with Football Unites: CommUNITY Tailgate, Team of the Week and on-field game recognition
Through Football Unites, the organization has created opportunities for South Florida-based groups to strengthen and expand their impact around community engagement, education and criminal justice reform. The team chose 11 recipients to receive Football Unites grants for the 2018 season. This diverse set of recipients includes Art Detectives, Community Justice Project, Inc., Miami Gardens Police Department, National Organization of Black Law Executives South Florida Chapter (NOBLE), North Miami Police Athletic League, North Miami Beach Police Athletic League, Pridelines, SAVE, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Urban League of Broward County and YWCA Miami.
The grant recipients are in addition to an announcement by Stephen Ross and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project of a long-term partnership, centering on social justice, education and police and youth relations. The cornerstones of the partnership are 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 and amplify new events. In all, these social justice community initiatives will impact more than 10,000 Role Models.
Another component of Football Unites is the Project Change Scholarship, which identifies one high school student each year and pays for their tuition to college over a four-year period. The goal of the college scholarship is to provide financial support to students who have made a commitment to leading social progress initiatives in their communities. This year's inaugural recipient was Valicia Browne. Browne, a graduating senior from Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca, has a goal to establish medical clinics to offer reasonably priced health care in underserved communities and has been accepted to Florida State University.
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 by Ross in Oct. 2015, RISE harnesses the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. To learn more about RISE, visit risetowin.org.