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The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) provides athletes with tools to stand up against racism and promote social change. With a remarkable ability to transcend societal differences, athletes can provide an essential influence to improve racial equality. We are committed to empowering athletes with opportunities to amplify their voice and make a difference as effective advocates.

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ATLANTA HAWKS JOIN RISE TO VOTE
RISE brought its RISE to Vote campaign to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. RISE to Vote is a yearlong national campaign to register professional athletes to vote and encourage them to spread the important message of voting to their fans. The nonpartisan campaign aims to register as many professional athletes as possible by the National Voter Registration Day – Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The event with the Hawks included support from The New Georgia Project. RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson and Martin Luther King III of the Drum Major Institute were on hand to speak with players about the importance of voting.
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ATLANTA FALCONS JOIN RISE TO VOTE
Through the RISE to Vote initiative, Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn and Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli invited RISE to register Falcons players to vote at the team’s practice facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia. RISE worked with The New Georgia Project, a local nonpartisan voter registration organization, for the event Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Martin Luther King III of the Drum Major Institute spoke to the players about the importance of voting. All 90 players attended the session. RISE to Vote is a nonpartisan effort that partners with professional sports teams and leagues to register professional athletes to vote and encourage them to lead their fans in becoming informed and engaged citizens.
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UNITY GAME WITH THE NEW YORK LIBERTY
The New York Liberty partnered with RISE to host a Unity Game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, when the Liberty played host to the Minnesota Lynx. The unity theme was reflected in programming throughout the day, including a panel discussion, concourse activations such as RISE’s It Takes All Colors signature photo booth, fan giveaways and community outreach. The panel featured Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; A. Shabazz, author and motivational speaker; Chief Juanita Holmes of the New York Police Department; William Rhoden, sports journalist and writer-at-large for The Undefeated; Sue Wicks, New York Liberty legend; and Tanisha Wright, New York Liberty veteran. Moderator was Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University professor, author and political commentator. Leading up to the game, the Liberty and Lynx players locked arms in a show of solidarity on court during the performance of the national anthem. Special guests attending the game were teammates of Mount Vernon basketball standout Shamoya McKenzie, who died at age 13 when she was struck by a stray bullet this past New Year’s Eve. RISE and the New York Liberty had presented a leadership session Sunday, Aug. 13, for the Mount Vernon student-athletes at The Garden. At halftime, New York Liberty President Isiah Thomas and RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson were interviewed. After the Liberty-Lynx game, officers from the 10th precinct competed in a fantasy game on The Garden floor against youth from Covenant House, a Garden of Dreams Foundation partner that serves homeless youth.
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ESPN HONORS RISE WITH STUART SCOTT ENSPIRE AWARD
RISE received a Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award and a $100,000 grant from ESPN for leadership in improving race relations and driving social progress. RISE founder Stephen M. Ross accepted the award Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at the third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards in Los Angeles. The event honored leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sports to make a positive impact on society. In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, the award celebrates individuals and organizations that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.
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STRATEGY SESSION WITH NEW YORK LIBERTY
RISE had a strategy session with players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, to discuss ways we can work together to make a difference.
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MILKEN INSTITUTE GLOBAL CONFERENCE 2017
RISE presented a panel, “Activist Athletes: Embracing Social Advocacy,” on Monday, May 1, 2017, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson moderated the panel, including Anquan Boldin of the NFL’s Detroit Lions; three-time WNBA Champion Swin Cash, director of franchise development with the New York Liberty; Stephen Ross, founder and chairman of RISE; and Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations.
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NFL DRAFT
Special guests representing RISE helped to announce the Miami Dolphins Day 3 NFL draft picks Saturday, April 29, 2017. Miami Dolphins alum and American Heritage High School Head Football Coach Patrick Surtain made the announcement of fifth-round pick (178th overall) defensive tackle Davon Godchaux from Louisiana State University. Accompanying Surtain for the announcement was Miami Carol City Senior High School running back and Dolphins High School Player of the Year Nayquan Wright, as well as Dolphins Team Mom of the Year Marisella Readon from the Boca Braves of the Gold Coast Pop Warner League. The three were recognized throughout the 2016 NFL season by the Miami Dolphins and RISE for their commitment to being leaders both on and off the field. Surtain received the Week 14 High School Coach of the Week award and was named by the Dolphins as the Broward County High School Coach of the Year. Wright received recognition as the Week 5 High School Player of the Week. Readon was the Week 10 Team Mom of the Week award recipient.
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RISE presents events during Super Bowl LI week in Houston
RISE kicked off Super Bowl week Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the first educational programming with student-athletes at University of Houston and Texas Southern University. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 2, and running up to the Super Bowl, RISE opened its It Takes All Colors photo booth at NFL Experience, where thousands of fans came through to take pictures with the Super Bowl logo and hold up signs speaking out against discrimination. On Friday, Feb. 3, 13 NFL players joined RISE founder Stephen M. Ross and CEO Jocelyn Benson in a Town Hall, where RISE released a report on athlete activism in 2016 and a candid conversation took place over two hours on ways to improve race relations and create safer communities.
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RISE HELPS SJSU CELEBRATE OPENING OF NEW INSTITUTE
RISE was part of a Town Hall on Jan. 24 at San Jose State University to celebrate opening of SJSU's Institute for the Study of Sport, Society & Social Change. The first panel was moderated by RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson & event featured Dr. Harry Edwards, Tommie Smith, Takeo Spikes, Anquan Boldin, Jim Brown, Chris Webber & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Benson presented the institute with Draymond Green’s Sideline Racism sneakers.
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DRAYMOND GREEN WEARS RISE SIDELINE RACISM SNEAKERS FOR MLK DAY GAME
Draymond Green again showed his commitment to standing up against racism by wearing RISE’s Sideline Racism sneakers during a Golden State Warriors game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and another game that week. He debuted the sneakers in December and has continued to use them as a way to express his continued desire to see race relations improve in our country.
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MIAMI DOLPHINS TOWN HALL
Kenny Stills, Jelani Jenkins, Michael Thomas and Arian Foster decided they needed to move into a solution mode. The four players invited community leaders, police officers and team personnel to a Miami Dolphins and RISE Town Hall to discuss the issues of inequality and to identify solutions to the problem.
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NEW YORK GIANTS, SEN. CORY BOOKER AND RISE
RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson helped to facilitate a conversation Oct. 12 between New York Giants players and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker on improving race relations. The group discussed issues facing the nation and exchanged ideas on how they can work together to drive change.
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Detroit Pistons Town Hall
RISE joined the Detroit Pistons for a community conversation on race relations that also featured the Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings. RISE CEO Jocelyn Benson moderated the conversation with panelists Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris from the Pistons, Detroit Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt and Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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Miami Dolphins Join Broward Sheriffs Dept. on Ride-Along
On Dec. 12, Miami Dolphins players Jelani Jenkins, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas joined members of the Broward County Sheriff's Office to show support and take part in a ride-along. Both groups jointly engaged the community, passed out football trading cards and discussed community policing at BSO's roll call. The idea for this collaboration was borne from our Town Hall with the Dolphins in September.
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Draymond Green Debuts RISE Sneakers in NBA
Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors helped to extend RISE’s Sideline Racism cause. Green made a surprise announcement on social media prior to his Dec. 3 game against the Phoenix Suns announcing that he'd be wearing special RISE Sideline Racism sneakers when he took the floor that night to match and support his NFL counterparts, who'd be wearing identical cleats the following day.
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NFL Players Wear RISE Sideline Racism Cleats
Thirteen players from nine teams showcased “Sideline Racism” cleats supporting the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL’s inaugural My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The campaign allowed players from across the league to wear cleats that highlighted a charitable cause important to them during Week 13 games. The cleats are gold to show that it's the gold standard to everyone with respect and dignity.
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Jacksonville Jaguars Town Hall
RISE joined Prince Amukamara and Kelvin Beachum from the Jaguars, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, as well as members of the Jacksonville police force and U.S. Navy in a conversation on how to improve race relations and create lasting change together in the Jacksonville community.