“Just do it” is Nike’s legendary motto, and when it comes to supporting Black lives and initiatives, frankly, we prefer action to black boxes. The athleticwear giant announced on Friday that it’s doing just that, adding Black Girl Ventures to its existing social and racial justice partnerships. Nike kicked off the new alliance with a $500,000 investment, according to a press release from the company:
Expanding the NIKE, Inc. Black Community Commitment to support organizations focused on social justice, education and economic opportunity for Black Americans, Nike announces a new partner focused on economic empowerment, Black Girl Ventures. The $500,000 investment from NIKE, Inc. will support Black Girl Ventures in its efforts to provide Black and Brown women-identifying founders with access to community, capital and capacity-building to support entrepreneurship. This contribution builds on the commitments to Black Girls CODE, NAACP Empowerment Programs and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) announced in July 2020.
As Black Girl Ventures founder and CEO Shelly Bell explained in a statement: “Nike’s funding will help us grow our reach through new chapter development, increase our technology infrastructure to better serve Black and Brown leaders through our proprietary crowdfunding platform and increase our brand visibility through storytelling campaigns curated by Black and Brown women,”
In 2020, legacy brand (and Nike holding) Converse also committed $100,000 to both the Equal Justice Initiative and LDF. This year, Nike states its intention is to “expand its focus to local investments in 2021 that drive action and impact in partnership with the Black community,” which will be facilitated through the dispersal of $1.75 million in Black Community Commitment grants “to organizations working on behalf of Black communities in seven U.S. cities: Boston, Memphis, St. Louis, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.”
Promising that coming weeks will reveal more initiatives intended “to eliminate opportunity gaps for Black Americans,” Nike, Inc. has additionally pledged continued support to its longstanding community partners, including the Jackie Robinson Foundation, PeacePlayers and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. “The Until We All Win community grant program, created in 2019, will continue to provide a total of $4 million each year to nonprofits working to level the playing field for the eight communities represented by our NikeUNITED Networks,” the release further states, adding that Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand have pledged an additional $100 million over 10 years to be allocated “with a focus on social justice, economic justice, and education and awareness.”
It’s neither a secret nor an overstatement to say we have a long way to go in achieving anything resembling racial equity in America—and calls are rightly rising for corporations to be accountable and transparent about their participation in that process. With a massive gap to close, here’s hoping this is a step in the right direction.