Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett announced Thursday he would donate all of his 2017 endorsement money and half the proceeds he receives from jersey sales to inner-city programs. Bennett is also lobbying for other professional athletes to do the same.
“The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids,” Bennett said in a statement. “Any company that decides to invest in me, just know that you’ll be investing in opportunities and providing inspiration for these families – many who feel unnoticed or go unmentioned”.
Bennett said Chance The Rapper, who donated $1 million to Chicago public schools this week, “inspired” him to make the pledge. Bennett’s endorsement money will be funneled to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programs in minority communities and 50% of the money he gets from the sale of his No. 72 Seahawks jerseys would go to inner-city garden projects.
“It’s not only about providing opportunities in education and arts, but to help provide the right nutrition and access to healthy living to all,” Bennett said.
Bennett supported former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest last season, although he did not kneel as Kaepernick did. Michael Bennett's brother, New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, raised a fist during the national anthem.
Michael Bennett had stated previously that athletes should be more active in social causes and he made that plea again on Thursday.
“I’m asking all professional athletes to join me by donating a portion of your endorsements this year to a cause of your choice,” Bennett said. “We can make a difference. It’s up to us to help plant seeds of hope and help fuel the future.”