This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Darryl C. Murphy
As the city celebrates the Super Bowl champion Eagles, it is easy to forget their actions off the field — including their generosity to social causes. And tops on their list is educational equity.
In their speeches on Thursday, team owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Doug Pederson cited a team marked by selflessness, compassion, teamwork, and resilience.
Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson has a clothing line, and he is donating all the profits to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. When his “underdog” shirts went viral and the NFL picked them up, he persuaded the league to donate all the profits as well.
The T-shirts are still being sold, and there is no estimate yet on how much they have raised.
Defensive end Chris Long announced in October that he would give his entire salary to educational causes this year.
Long said last fall that he would donate his next 10 game checks to educational causes in the three cities he has played in: Boston, St. Louis, and Philadelphia. His first six checks for games went to a scholarship fund for a private school in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Long signed a two-year deal with the Eagles, receiving a $750,000 signing bonus, a $1 million base salary, and a $1.25 million roster bonus.
The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia has a Twitter campaign to get 100 retweets of Philadelphia students thanking Long and Johnson.
Other Eagles players also have foundations and give back to various communities, including quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.
Last year, Wentz founded his AO1 foundation (that stands for “Audience of One,” which for Wentz, who has deep religious faith, is Jesus), which has a mission to “demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.” It supports programs for “underprivileged youth living in the U.S. and abroad,” among other causes.
Foles donated $250,000 to his alma mater, the University of Arizona, for a new academic center aimed at student-athletes.
Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton and others have foundations supporting activities such as youth football and food banks. Burton supports the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance for its work with child sexual abuse victims, and wide receiver Nelson Agholor donated backpacks for Philly students through Steppingstone Scholars.
Beyond the causes embraced by individual players, the Eagles Charitable Foundation is well enmeshed in the region’s philanthropy network. Until recently known as the Eagles Youth Partnership, the foundation was founded in 1995 and finances various health and education programs in the region. Most well-known is the Eagles Eye Mobile, which travels to under-served neighborhoods and uses the Eagles’ cachet to draw families’ attention to the need for children to have their vision checked.
Most of its visits are to city schools; the program has its own outreach manager at the District, Dawn Baxter.
But now it is also working with local medical institutions, including Children’s Hospital, and non-profits to underwrite autism research. That is a personal cause for Jeffrey Lurie – his brother was diagnosed with the disorder. The Eagles organization sponsors an annual fundraiser called Taking Flight for Autism.
Although the Eagles are the Charitable Foundation’s largest funder, it also accepts outside donations. A who’s who of local corporations are sponsors, including Aramark, Lincoln Financial, Santander Bank, Acme, and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation.