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Summing Up the Last Year of NIKE, Inc.’s Commitment to the Black Community

Just over a year ago, NIKE, Inc., on behalf of Nike, Jordan Brand and Converse, committed $40 million to supporting the Black community. The same day, Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan committed $100 million.

While these long-term investments built on long-standing support (see sidebar), the moment that spurred the announcement was singular, says Karol Collymore, Senior Director of Inclusive Community for Social & Community Impact. “On May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was killed, that was something that changed every person. Whether it was folks for the first time who really saw what persistent inequality looks like or a catalyst to continue to talk about systemic racism — it was not possible for any of us to look away,” she says. “For NIKE, Inc. to step up and commit this money, it’s important, to be where we say we’re going to be for the Black community.”

In picking the initial partners for the commitments, Collymore, along with an internal NIKE, Inc. team led by Craig Williams, president of Jordan Brand, asked where and how the company could be most effective. “We thought, ‘How do we want to show up? And not just in this moment, but over time?” Collymore says.

NIKE, Inc.’s Black Community Funding Commitment Partners  0

That meant thinking about how systemic issues affect communities, and the organizations that could move the needle. The NIKE, Inc. and Jordan Brand partnerships reflect the crucial work to be done in social justice, and the laws around voting access; economic empowerment and providing financial literacy, job training and support; and education innovation beyond mainstream schooling, and focusing on science, technology, engineering and math — subjects where youth often get left behind.

Considering how to invest in local communities was also essential. NIKE, Inc. looked at seven key cities where the brand has a significant footprint to hire professionals on the ground to drive philanthropy. “There’s something to be said for authentic commitment that starts at the grassroots level,” Collymore says. “The people we’ve hired know the city they live in and its needs. And I think that's what is special about what we're doing — being led by professionals with deep community ties and a commitment to Nike's goals toward inclusion.”

“This year of work was galvanizing,” Collymore says, “and went far beyond monetary commitments. We can’t solve systemic racism alone, but we can certainly make an impact. We know the power that we have, and our responsibility to wield it.”