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Nike and Adidas Take Action to Support Black Youth

As Black History Month comes to a close, two athletic wear titans have launched new initiatives that aim to promote diversity, inclusion and equity. This week, both Nike and Adidas launched programs geared toward providing education and mentorship for Black youths and athletes.

On Wednesday, Nike announced its partnership with cash saving app Goalsetter, granting the financial literacy startup $1 million. Founded by Black female entrepreneur Tonya Van Court, the platform uses engaging content—like games and appearances from celebrities, musicians and athletes—to help young people understand what it means to be fiscally responsible while saving for their future.

According to Court, Goalsetter’s objective is for every child in America have their own savings account, in the hopes of instilling healthy financial habits from an early age. Goalsetter’s research showed that kids with savings accounts are more likely to attend college and own stocks in the future, underscoring the idea that an interest in and understanding of finances can help foster ambition and set kids up for a fruitful financial future.

The group also hopes to help reverse the generational wealth gap, which statistically crosses ethnic lines, disproportionately impacting communities of color. Goalsetter data revealed that by 2053, Black Americans are projected to have a collective negative net worth, while the U.S. Latinx community is projected to see the same fate by 2073.

Nike’s sizable investment is Goalsetter’s largest corporate donation to date, the company said, and it will be used to seed 10,000 savings accounts for children across the country, with a focus on Black youth. “Nike is propelling a historic moment by helping to change the way America educates a whole generation of kids,” Court said, adding that the investment will “engage them, and start them on a path to financial freedom.”

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Craig Williams, president of Jordan brand, said Goalsetter’s “purpose to build financial literacy for Black families” aligns with the company’s goals, “specifically focusing on economic empowerment to address racial inequality for Black Americans.”

“Our partnership with Goalsetter is one way Nike, Jordan and Converse seek to transform how U.S. families, and in particular Black youth, access financial education and in turn, feel empowered to reach their goals,” he added.

The partnership coincides with Nike’s initial rollout of its Black Community Commitment investments to local organizations focused on economic empowerment, education and social justice, the company said. So far, $2.75 million has been granted to organizations in Portland and New York City, with additional grantees in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis and Saint Louis to be announced. The company has also engaged with other strategic partners in fostering diversity and inclusion over the course of the past year, including Black Girls CODE, NAACP Empowerment Programs and its Legal Defense Fund, and Black Girl Ventures.

Meanwhile, competitor Adidas has announced its own campaign, dubbed Honoring Black Excellence (HBE), that will spotlight the stories of Black athletes and visionaries and engage them in new opportunities.

Adidas' Honoring Black Excellence program honoree, track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Adidas’ Honoring Black Excellence program honoree, track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Adidas

The company acknowledged Tuesday that “There is no picture of sport, culture, or Adidas without the Black community,” and said the launch of the HBE program would provide underserved youth with access to mentorship, sport and educational resources through partnerships with local communities, non-profits and Adidas’ creator network. What’s more, HBE will leverage Adidas’ massive brand platform and social reach to highlight the stories of these individuals, who are striving to make a positive impact on their communities.

“Often initiatives around Black excellence focus on history rather than the present or future,” the company said in a statement, adding that “Honoring Black Excellence is about acknowledging, appreciating and celebrating Black leaders who are here with us right now, driving change for today and a better tomorrow.”

Etop Udo-Ema, manager of the Compton Magic basketball program.
Etop Udo-Ema, manager of the Compton Magic basketball program. Adidas

“We wanted to honor the rich history of [Black] people. We also wanted to shine a light on accomplishments happening today,” Eric Wise, Adidas’ general manager of basketball said. “This balance of inspiration and education was what inspired us to create Honoring Black Excellence as a year-round heartbeat of authentic storytelling and innovation.”

Throughout the course of 2021, Adidas will feature athletes and individuals across different sports and regions of the U.S. So far, the company has named five honorees, including track and field trailblazer Jackie Joyner-Kersee—Sports Illustrated’s “Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century”—who is raising resources for her community of East Saint Louis, Ill., along with the founders of Atlanta youth leadership non-profit L.E.A.D., C.J. and Kelly Stewart, and Etop Udo-Ema, manager of the Compton Magic basketball program.

Founders of Atlanta youth leadership non-profit L.E.A.D., C.J. and Kelly Stewart.
Founders of Atlanta youth leadership non-profit L.E.A.D., C.J. and Kelly Stewart. Adidas

Udo-Ema will be supported in his grassroots community efforts in the Los Angeles neighborhood. Meanwhile, two Adidas employees—Adidas Originals assistant designer Nathaly Delacruz and product manager Alexis Douglas—were chosen for their efforts to bring equity and inclusion to their home communities in the Bronx and Winston Salem, N.C., respectively.