INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts today announced the first of several steps to battle systemic racism and other forms of discrimination and to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of the team's business and community efforts.
"The mission of the Colts is to entertain, unite and inspire by winning the right way," said Jim Irsay, Colts Owner & CEO. "That means we take our work off the field in communities across our city and state just as seriously as we what we do on the field."
"In addition to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others, I have heard stunning testimonials from our players and staff about their personal experiences with racism," Irsay said. "In recent weeks, you've also heard passionate words from our general manager, head coach, players and me about racism and injustice – and their specific and often intentional impact on our Black friends and neighbors – and these words will continue to be reflected in how we operate, communicate and engage."
"We realize these are difficult and uncomfortable topics to talk about, and they certainly go beyond football. But as an Indiana business, as a responsible corporate citizen – and as people who truly care about our fellow Hoosiers – we believe that Black lives matter and that we must continue this dialogue and do what we can to inspire positive change."
Some of the first steps the team will take include:
- The creation of the Irsay Family Impact Scholarship, which when fully established will help talented minority students with a financial need to achieve their educational goals.
Each year, a student will be selected for the scholarship, which will cover the costs of a four-year education at Indiana University, the alma mater of Colts vice chairs & owners Casey (Irsay) Foyt and Kalen (Irsay) Jackson. If the student chooses a college other than IU, the value of four years of IU tuition would be applied toward the student's expenses at his or her school of choice. The scholarship also will cover costs associated with high school college preparation, which could include tutoring costs or tuition assistance at a college prep high school.
In total, the scholarship will cover eight years of education costs for each recipient. Beginning with the eighth year, there will be eight scholars in the program at any given time. More details about eligibility and the application and selection process will be announced in the near future.
- The creation of a new staff position, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, who will work across all Colts departments on social responsibility, hiring, supplier diversity, education and training and other internal efforts. The new position also will work with stakeholders and partners on external efforts to support and promote diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the community.
- The Colts also will formally recognize and celebrate "Juneteenth," the June 19 holiday celebrating the freedom of formerly enslaved people – primarily Black Americans – in the United States after the Civil War. The team has made Juneteenth a permanent company holiday and will share info about the celebration on their social and digital media channels tomorrow.
The team will announce more initiatives in the upcoming weeks and months.
Juneteenth, which is celebrated in Indiana and most U.S. states, commemorates the day in 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger publicly read federal orders in Galveston, Texas freeing enslaved Americans in Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation which officially ended slavery was ordered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and the Civil War had largely ended, word was slow to get to Texas and enforcement of the order was not vigorous. Gen. Gordon's reading of the orders marked one of the final actions of the period that led to freedom for millions.