The National Football League (NFL) Foundation and Cisco, an Official Technology Partner of the NFL, are each donating $75,000, totaling $150,000 to The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (Legal Aid) and the Cleveland Public Library Foundation during the lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The donation will kick off the season-long Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Grant project as part of the NFL’s ongoing social justice work and commitment to addressing the digital divide. In addition, it’s another step toward fulfilling Cisco’s purpose to power an inclusive future, with equal access to technology.
The grant will go towards Legal Aid’s work to promote access to justice across the digital divide in collaboration with the Cleveland Public Library. This work has become even more urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, as reliable internet and familiarity with technology are now essential for so many day-to-day activities.
Specifically, the NFL Foundation and Cisco’s support will:
- Grow a partnership between Legal Aid and Cleveland Public Library to create spaces for virtual legal meetings (such as sessions with attorneys and court hearings);
- Expand Legal Aid’s new laptop lending initiative for families;
- Support the Cleveland Library’s children’s services department with new technology.
“We’re proud to support The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library Foundation along with our partner Cisco as part of this year’s Draft in Cleveland,” said Alexia Gallagher, NFL Vice President of Philanthropy and Executive Director, NFL Foundation. “Giving families access to technology and digital resources are a necessity, now more than ever, and we look forward to seeing the lasting impact of these organization’s work in the Cleveland community”
This investment in Legal Aid and commitment to closing the digital divide is part of the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, which launched in 2018. Inspire Change supports programs that reduce barriers to opportunity for low-income communities with a focus on four areas: education; economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.
“We are grateful to the NFL Foundation for its generous support of Legal Aid’s new and innovative technology programs, which are addressing the urgent needs of our neighbors and community members,” says Colleen Cotter, Esq., Executive Director of Legal Aid. “By removing barriers to digital connectivity, we are promoting equal access to justice for all.”
“Cleveland Public Library is committed to closing the digital divide,” said Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library. “With the support of Legal Aid, the NFL Foundation, and Cisco, more people will have access to technology to connect to vital services. Our new video conference rooms will provide a safe, private space for families to receive legal help, conduct job interviews, attend telehealth appointments, and participate in Library-rich programming.”