The organization that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils says it has launched a $20 million initiative to fight systemic racism.
The pledge from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment is the latest example of professional sports franchises, and leagues overall, using their power (and cash) to take on social issues in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. The NFL, for example, in June committed $250 million over 10 years.
HBSE said half of the $20 million will go to the newly formed NBA Foundation, a new organization dedicated to empowering black communities across the country. The NBA said each team will contribute $1 million a year over a ten-year period.
The charity is led by an eight-person board of directors composed of union officials and members from the league office.
HBSE says most of its financial contributions will go to cities, and black communities, where its teams are located. Some of those places include Newark and Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia.
HBSE owns Newark’s Prudential Center, which is home to the NHL’s Devils. The group is also among three finalists to purchase MLB’s New York Mets.
“As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be,” HBSE founder Josh Harris said in a statement. “While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality. We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support.”
“We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate,” said co-founder David Blitzer, “and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve and our country as a whole.”
HBSE says its investments, among others, will focus on donations to groups that push for affordable housing and will also support black entrepreneurs. HBSE also intends to hire a chief diversity and impact officer.