INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts today launched #BreakingBarriers, a player- and club-led initiative to support community efforts that are working to break down long-standing barriers to opportunity and to promote equality and justice for all.
Much like other team initiatives, such as Crucial Catch and Salute to Service, Colts players, coaches, and front office staff will participate in efforts throughout the year that foster community dialogue, work to improve police-community relations, provide economic and educational opportunities for underserved communities, and work to end discrimination.
Colts players will wear #BreakingBarriers T-shirts to help launch the new effort during pregame warmups before tonight's preseason game vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
"We live in a great city, state, and country, but we all know there's a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone has a level playing field and an opportunity to succeed in life," said Colts owner & CEO Jim Irsay. "By using the powerful platform of sports, the Colts can bring people together to help break down barriers and make a positive difference in the lives of others. It will take all of us."
"We are proud that the Colts organization is teaming with the players to help lift people up and bring folks together to take on the social and community issues that affect so many people," said Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard. "We can't ignore these struggles. So players on this team are making a commitment to help make communities better for everybody, regardless of the color of their skin."
"Football is about teamwork and uniting different people to work toward a common goal, and that's the spirit we hope to take into the community," said Colts defensive end John Simon. "We can't wait to roll up our sleeves and lend a hand and a voice to efforts that are improving lives."
The effort will include three components:
· Fostering community dialogue. This season, Colts players, coaches, and staff will continue to host and take part in events that bring that bring diverse groups of people together to have positive and productive conversations about important community issues.
For example, last season the Colts hosted a community dialogue at Marian University, as well as "Coffee with Cops," where Colts players brought together local officers and community members at various locations throughout the city to promote dialogue.
Already this year, the Colts partnered with local police officers to host a youth football camp at Colts Training Camp in Westfield. The team also hosted a group of Indiana police chiefs at camp to interact and engage with Colts players.
· Inspiring community members. Throughout the year, the Colts will continue to host and take part in activities that inspire Hoosiers to work toward the important goals of the effort. Last year, several players joined students from the Indianapolis Public Schools and local police officers at the Peace Learning Center, the city's award-winning organization that educates, inspires and empowers people to live peacefully.
Already this year, Colts players visited the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center to meet with youthful offenders and inspire them to change the trajectory of their lives.
· Funding community initiatives. The Colts have created a new Social Justice Club Fund, which will support local nonprofits working in these important areas. The Colts organization will match contributions from current and former players up to $250,000. Colts players and staff will collaboratively determine the process, timeline, and guidelines for the fund.
The Colts also will grant awards from the Players' Action Fund, which Colts players created last season to support nonprofits that are working to break down barriers. The Irsay family kicked off the fund last year with a $100,000 donation.
For more information on #BreakingBarriers, visit Colts.com/AllofUs.