Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford to fund social justice program for Georgia athletes

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is helping to fund a social justice program for athletes at his alma matter.

The University of Georgia said in a news release Friday that Stafford and his wife, Kelly, earmarked $350,000 of a larger donation to the school to seed a program designed to “implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice.”

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart also gave $150,000 to the program, which will involve athletes and coaches from all sports.

Stafford was a three-year starter at Georgia in 2006-08 before the Lions made him the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft. 

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Kelly Stafford was a cheerleader at the school, and the couple owns a home in the state.

In his 12th season with the Lions, Stafford has been at the forefront of some of the team’s social justice initiatives since the spring.

Last month, he joined defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Duron Harmon in a virtual town hall for voter education hosted by the Lions’ Inspire Change initiative in conjunction with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equity (RISE).

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During the session, Stafford talked about the importance of equal education opportunities for kids, something he helped champion early in his career when he pledged $1 million to revitalize a Detroit rec center.

“If we can give these kids the opportunities that they deserve, frankly, it’s going to make a huge difference, not only now and in the next three or four years when these kids get the opportunity to go to college, but it’s going to make a huge difference down the road when these kids are voters and making decisions for undoubtedly their kids,” Stafford said. “So it was a huge issue for me and something I have a close feel to.”

The Staffords also donated more than $100,000 in coronavirus relief aid to local food banks and area hospitals this spring.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

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