Posted April 21, 2021 in Press Releases

Through virtual and physically distant in-person events, the NFL will focus efforts and resources on bridging the digital divide, greening projects, and food insecurity

NEW YORK – In the lead up to the 2021 NFL DRAFT in Cleveland, April 29- May 1, the NFL will host a series of community events, both in Cleveland and virtually. With this year's focus on pandemic recovery, Draft week events and the Draft-a-Thon will focus on creating action and awareness on four key areas at the intersection of pandemic recovery and our hardest hit communities: the digital divide, food insecurity, health disparities, and mental health awareness.

From local efforts to fight hunger, to youth football events and character-building initiatives, to community greening projects, the NFL will leave a lasting, positive legacy in Cleveland and throughout Ohio – especially after a year that has been trying for so many in our country.

Throughout the week in Cleveland, the NFL family will safely participate in events designed to give back to the community. Kicking off the week, the NFL is partnering with the GREATER CLEVELAND FOOD BANK to fight food insecurity, where the NFL will make a $35,000 donation and hand out NFL-themed items to those coming to receive fresh produce and shelf-stable food.

The NFL's traditional focus on sustainability around its tentpole events will be a focus of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland. NFL Green, in partnership with Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, will be planting trees, building community gardens, donating unserved food, repurposing event materials, and supporting a harbor clean up during Draft week. NFL Green will also premiere the 100 Yards of Hope Coral Reef Restoration documentary virtually with the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. These events are designed to leave a positive "green" legacy in the host community of Cleveland.

The Cleveland Public Library will host the kickoff of the INSPIRE CHANGE HUDDLE LEGACY PROGRAM a season-long commitment to help close the digital divide. As part of the program, the NFL Foundation and Cisco are each donating $75,000, totaling $150,000, to The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library Foundation. This donation will upgrade technology for children's programming at the Cleveland Public Library. And, the gift will create new technology justice hubs for families with children to access Legal Aid's services while at library branches.

In advance of the Draft, the NFL has been working with the YWCA of Greater Cleveland to curate a NFL-DRAFT YWCA RACIAL EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE CHALLENGE. Members of the NFL family have read articles, watched videos and listened to podcasts, teaching them about issues around systemic racism, criminal justice, pay inequity, intersectionality and more. Participants have shared their reactions to these important learnings on @NFL and @InspireChange social media handles.

Capping off the week in Cleveland, there will be a FIELD REFURBISHMENT GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY at Shaw High School in East Cleveland where the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, city and school reps will participate to commemorate the start of the school's football field refurbishment project, which is funded by the Browns and supported by the NFL Foundation through a $200,000 matching field grant. This ceremony will be followed by a COMMUNITY GARDEN BUILD across the street at Chambers Community Center. The project will be led by the Cleveland Browns and funded by the NFL. Volunteers will plant new garden boxes and landscape. The garden will then be used by students to grow their own food.

All three days of the NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, including two nights of primetime coverage on Thursday and Friday.



An overview of each event is listed below, with full details and media contact for each event

Greater Cleveland Food Bank Distribution: Tuesday, April 27th 1 – 4pm ET, City of Cleveland Muni-Lot

  • The NFL will support the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in their weekly food distribution event where 2,500 – 3,000 people will be served via a drive through. Each family/individual receives fresh produce and shelf stable food. The NFL and Cleveland Browns will be on-site and hand out additional NFL Draft and Browns swag. There will also be a check presentation at 12:45pm for the $35,000 the NFL is donating to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
  • The Official Soup Sponsor of the NFL, Campbell's Chunky®, will be contributing to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and providing each visitor with cans of soup in addition to the other nutritious food they will already be receiving – adding on to their long history of fighting hunger and giving back to the community.
  • Additionally, as part of NFL Draft efforts, PepsiCo is donating 7,000 bottles of Aquafina to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
  • Media - For more information on the Greater Cleveland Food Bank Distribution, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

NFL Green Tree Restoration at Big Creek Reservation: Tuesday April 27th, 1pm ET, Big Creek Reservation, Lower Fern Hill Picnic Area.

  • The NFL Green Tree restoration at Big Creek Reservation in partnership with Cleveland Metroparks, NFL partner Verizon and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. Native species trees suited to the local environment will be planted to build the tree canopy along Big Creek Parkway in Cleveland Metroparks Big Creek Reservation. The event will culminate with the planting of trees in the Lower Fern Hill Picnic Area.
  • Media - For more information on the tree restoration, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

Play Football Town Hall: Tuesday April 27, 6:00pm. – 7:30pm ET, St. Ignatius High School Breen Center

  • The Play Football Town Hall will promote proper playing fundamentals and discuss the transferable skills that are building blocks to success in life on and off the field. Roman Oben, NFL Vice President of Football Development and LeCharles Bentley, NFL Senior Advisor of Player Performance and Development, will share life lessons learned from playing the game with local Cleveland student-athletes and parents.
  • Media - For more information on the Play Football Town Hall, please contact Taylor.Kielpinski-Rogers@nfl.com

NFL Green Community Garden Build: Wednesday, April 28th, 10am ET, William Rainey Harper School

  • The NFL, in partnership with Ohio State University Extension and the City of Cleveland's Summer Sprout program will host an event to build a community garden and create a pollinator garden and learning area at William Rainey Harper School. The community garden will be a source of hands-on education for students, teaching them basic plant science while actively demonstrating that growing your own produce can be fun. The garden will help to address food insecurity and access to healthy options. Food grown at the garden will be donated to the local community and will support snack time at the school. OSU's Summer Sprout and several master gardeners will lead the garden build. Students, parents and teachers will assist.
  • Media - For more information on the community garden build, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Event—Bridging the Digital Divide with Cisco: Thursday, April 29, 10am – 11am ET, Cleveland Public Library-Rice Branch, 11535 Shaker Boulevard, Cleveland, OH

  • The Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Event will kick off the league's season-long commitment to closing the digital divide as part of the Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Program. Starting in Cleveland, and continuing in Kickoff, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl cities for 2021, the NFL Foundation will donate $75,000 to a community gathering space in the region to upgrade their tech centers and computer labs for the many children and families who use their resources after school for homework and other programs. Cisco, an Official Technology Partner of the NFL, will match the NFL Foundation's $75,000 donation in Cleveland, totaling $150,000.
  • At the event, NFL Legends will join representatives from the NFL, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and Cleveland Public Library for a tour to see where new technology will be installed, followed by computer activities with Legends and families served by the Legal Aid Society at the Rice Branch..

The NFL and Cisco funds in Cleveland will support:

  • Video Conference Rooms at Cleveland Public Library, to be used primarily by families serviced by the Legal Aid Society.
  • Providing technology that will be shared among the many families that the Legal Aid Society serves.
    • Providing tech upgrades and additional tech opportunities at Cleveland Public Library for use for children throughout the community.
  • Media - For more information on the Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Event, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

Field Refurbishment Groundbreaking Ceremony & Community Garden Build: Friday, April 30th at 1pm ET, Shaw High School Stadium

  • The NFL, the Cleveland Browns, City and school reps will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony at Shaw High School in East Cleveland to commemorate the start of the school's football field refurbishment project. The project, which will be completed by August 2021, is funded by the Browns and supported by the NFL Foundation through a $200,000 matching field grant.
  • In alignment with our fight against food insecurity, one of the key pillars of the NFL's Draft-a-Thon, and in conjunction with the groundbreaking ceremony at Shaw High School, the NFL will be funding and leading a garden project at Chambers Community Center following the ceremony. Volunteers will help fill the garden with new boxes and landscaping, which will be used by the students to grow their own food.
  • Media - For more information, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

NFL FLAG Regional Tournament: Saturday, May 1, 8am– 7pm ET, Hall of Fame Village Sports Complex

  • The NFL FLAG Regional Tournament Series offers athletes more opportunities to compete than ever before, including younger and older age divisions, recreational divisions, and expanded opportunities for girls. Winners of the 12 NFL FLAG Regional Tournaments will go on to compete in the NFL FLAG Championships at Pro Bowl Presented by Subway.
  • Media - For more information on the NFL FLAG Regional Tournament, please contact Taylor.Kielpinski-Rogers@nfl.com

NFL Green North Harbor Waterfront Cleanup: Sunday, April 25th at 11am ET, Wednesday, April 28th from 12:30pm to 5:30pm ET, and Thursday, April 29th through Saturday, May 1st from 8:30am to 11am ET*

  • Local students from Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School will be on the water during Draft week to keep the harbor clear of debris. In partnership with NFL Green, PHASTAR, Port of Cleveland and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, students will work with instructors to clean the channel that runs behind the main Draft stage, the North Coast Harbor inner basin and a portion of the waterline at Burke Lakefront Airport. On-water programs are part of the maritime curriculum at Davis and provide real world experience for students pursuing careers on the water or in the maritime industry.
      • *Hours subject to change pending US Coast Guard guidance


World Premiere of 100 Yards of Hope Coral Reef Restoration Documentary – hosted virtually by the Greater Cleveland Aquarium: Tuesday, April 27 at 10am ET

  • The world premiere of 100 Yards of Hope, a documentary about the unique Super Bowl restoration of a football field-sized coral reef will debut during NFL Draft week. The film features the work of FORCE BLUE, a team of retired Special Operations military divers dedicated to saving America's only barrier coral reef. NFL Green teamed up with FORCE BLUE, scientists, natural resource managers and NFL partners who came together to save a portion of the reef off the coast of Miami and lay the groundwork for future coral restoration worldwide. Those who register for the premiere will have access to the documentary throughout the week of the Draft. Learning links are provided for educators.
  • Registration Link: greaterclevelandaquarium.com/100-yards-of-hope
  • Media - For more information on the 100 Yards of Hope Premiere, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

Character Playbook Panel Discussion on Mental Health: Tuesday, April 27 at 1pm ET

  • The NFL will host a virtual panel discussion for NFL/United Way Character Playbook high school students and teachers on the topic of mental health. Funded by the NFL Foundation and United Way Worldwide, Character Playbook is a digital education resource that supports positive character development, social-emotional learning, mental wellness, and health relationships in middle- and high school students and is available to all U.S. schools free of charge.
  • Media - For more information on the Character Playbook Panel Discussion, contact Jordyn White, NFL, Jordyn.White@NFL.com

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