Georgia football coach Kirby Smart and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford are teaming up to help endow a social justice program “that seeks to implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice.”
Stafford and his wife Kelly are donating $350,000 while Smart and his wife Mary Beth are putting forth $150,000 to total $500,000 to help fund the initiative.
“The generosity of Matthew and Coach Smart allows the Athletic Association to implement strategic initiatives in diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “These gifts will help the Athletic Association educate, implement dynamic programming, and execute service opportunities to achieve our goals, those being to foster critical consciousness, cultural competence and further developing change within the Athletic Association and our greater community.”
Stafford played at Georgia from 2006-08 before being taken with the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He has spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions.
Smart is entering his fifth season as Georgia’s head coach. In June, shortly after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, Smart issued a statement on Twitter about the need to address the issues with racism and injustice in the country.
“I firmly stand against racism of all kinds,” Smart said. “I realize that I feel this differently, but I am hurting for the young black men on my team, I am hurting for the black men on our staff. I cannot imagine the agony, grief and fear that our black communities feel today and every other day.
In a statement from the University of Georgia, the school states, “the primary goal of this program is to continue developing an environment that will effect meaningful change in these areas for all the Association’s members, including student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
Matt Borman, the deputy athletic director for development, helped further explain what the social justice program is aiming to do.
The Athletic Association remains committed to leading a sustained dialogue on diversity, inclusion and innovation in what continues to be historic times for our nation,” Borman said. “The significant gifts from Matthew and Coach Smart will allow the Athletic Association to apply important initiatives in these critical areas.
“We have exceptional student-athletes, staff, and community leaders who will help us inspire, motivate, and stimulate meaningful action moving forward in this effort.”
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