One of the many athletes who have left the NFL and launched other successful careers is former 49er great and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, whose All Stars Helping Kids bridges the artificial divides among what Lott calls “sports, business, and philanthropy.”
Lott didn’t wait until he left football to start his philanthropic activism. He started this organization in 1989.
"In our society, we're starving for people to step up and make a difference,” said Lott on the organization’s Web site. “I want to be one of those people. I don't want to walk away from my life feeling that I didn't do enough."
Now, All Stars Helping Kids is taking its mission nationally, due to its success in the Bay Area.
On its web site, the organization said that it advocates “high-quality academic and physical enrichment programs in low-income communities via mass media, coalition-building and fundraising events driven by our collection of athletes.”
All Stars said it wants to create “a groundswell of activism on behalf of kids through sustainable community outreach programming driven by one or more high-profile athlete, strategic grant-making and technical assistance workshops for our beneficiaries.”
Lott hopes the result will help motivate “millions of disadvantaged children and their families, raising the level of their expectations and achievement in educationally underserved communities.”
This is especially important in some areas that have seen decades-long poverty among blacks. Cal Berkeley professor Harry Edwards has warned us about the danger of ignoring—at the peril of all Americans of every background—blacks who have been disenfranchised.
In my opinion, this unfortunate disenfranchisement can be traced directly back to the evils of slavery.
I recently wrote a column about Edwards’ prescient insight, and I believe he needs to be listened to; otherwise, our country will continue to face a future where this disenfranchisement will continue to eat away at our nation’s heart like a slow-moving cancer.
Lott is attempting to do something about this through effective action.
Take a look at his organization and determine if you want to help it. You don't have to be an athlete to make a difference.