The NFL may be moving away from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but it’s getting closer to Democratic megadonor George Soros.
The league announced grants Tuesday totaling nearly $2 million to eight organizations focused on education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and “criminal justice reforms,” as part of a $20 million commitment, according to a press release.
They include two organizations with ties to Soros: the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Vera Institute of Justice. Both have received funding from the progressive donor’s Open Society Foundations.
The other grant recipients are the Anti-Recidivism Coalition; Campaign for Black Male Achievement; Civil Rights Corps; Gideon’s Promise; NAF, and the Voice of the Experienced, formerly Voice of the Ex-Offender.
“Working together with the Players Coalition, the NFL continues to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity,” said the league.
The NFL owners launched the Inspire Change initiative in March 2018 after the uproar over Kaepernick’s take-a-knee protest during in the 2016 regular season, which saw television ratings drop amid fan outrage.
The free-agent Kaepernick has not played since then after teams declined to sign him. He reached an undisclosed settlement with the NFL in March in response to his collusion complaint.
Embracing the social-justice movement appears to have worked for the league: After a tumultuous 2017 regular season, only a handful of players refused to stand during the national anthem last year, and the protests received little media coverage.
Scott Walter, president of the conservative Capital Research Center, which tracks funders through its InfluenceWatch website, said most fans are probably unaware of the grant recipients’ ties to leftist foundations.
“It’s sad that something as widely loved as football has to be politicized in this way, period,” said Walter. “And especially it’s unfortunate that it’s politicized in this kind of stealthy way, where groups that most Americans know nothing about are funded.”
He said the Vera Institute, which has an annual budget of about $51 million, is “closely connected with Soros’s Open Society Foundations. One of its founders, Herbert Sturz, was even an OSF trustee.”
“For decades, Vera has raked in tens of millions of dollars from OSF and other hard-left foundations, including the Ford and MacArthur foundations,” Walter said.
The NFL described the Vera Institute as a “justice reform change agent studying problems, testing solutions, harnessing the power of evidence, and driving public debate to urgently build justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities.”
The grants are part of a $20M commitment from the NFL and its teams to social justice groups in 2018.
Funding in this round includes leadership development for young men of color, advocacy for formerly incarcerated men and women and training of public defenders. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/aCwjVye4k1
— NFL (@NFL) June 4, 2019
The Alliance for Safety and Justice “isn’t a real non-profit. It’s a project of the Tides Center, which has sprouted hundreds of similar left-wing activist groups using cash from major foundations,” Walter said.
According to the NFL, the alliance “aims to win new safety priorities in states by reducing incarceration and barriers for people living with a past conviction, advancing policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, and expanding constituencies and support for justice reform.”
Not all of the grantees are as politically charged. In the last round, the NFL gave grants to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the United Negro College Fund.