By Aaron Allen, Seattle Medium
The Black Future Co-Op Fund, Washington state’s first all Black-led philanthropic organization designed to promote and ignite Black generational health, wealth and well-being, recently elevated its profile and a got boost in visibility due to their partnership with OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Last week, the team revealed its new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2021 NWSL season, which prominently displays the name of the Future Co-Op Fund on the front of the team’s jersey that is normally reserved for major sponsors. According to the OL Reign, the Black Future Co-op Fund will be featured on the front of OL Reign’s primary and secondary jerseys during the 2021 season until the club secures a new presenting sponsor.
“We recognized that our club had an incredible opportunity to use our most valuable media asset to raise awareness for an organization that we care deeply about,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore. “The Black Future Co-op Fund serves as critical catalyst for change, investing in areas that are underserved and unappreciated in an effort to elevate our community to a more equitable place. We believe that by being featured our jerseys we can help them make a greater and more immediate impact within our community.”
The Black Future Co-Op was created from the backlash of the George Floyd murder but its foundation goes much deeper. Founded by Washington State Senator and Tacoma Urban League President T’wina Nobles, Michelle Merriweather, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle; Angela Jones, CEO of Washington Stem; and Andrea Caupain, CEO of Byrd Barr Place the organization seeks to address the systemic inequalities that have caused Black people to be disproportionately impacted by racial profiling, police killings and incarceration, contracting COVID and dying at higher rates than white people and other groups.
OL Reign defender Madison Hammond believes that this opportunity to promote and bring awareness to the Black Future Co-Op Fund is incredible.
“I think that it’s really incredible that we get to have the Black Future Co-op Fund front and center,” says Hammond. “You know for me, as a bi-racial member of this league and a Black woman, it’s really important and impactful that this club is really buying into the initiatives that are important to us.”
With unemployment that has soared to rates that rival the Great Depression and with many Black youth have been unable to continue their studies due to a lack of Wi-Fi access in their homes, Nobles believes that the partnership comes at a critical time for African Americans across the state.
“OL Reign’s dedication and passion combined with ours creates a powerful partnership for spreading hope and gratitude and, ultimately, achieving our collective vision of Black liberation,” says Nobles. “We’re grateful to team up with OL Reign to realize the promise of shared prosperity for Black Washingtonians.”
Although the Black community for generations has always risen to the occasion with very few outside resources, Black Future Co-Op Fund’s mission is to help secure a strong network and infrastructure for sustained financial and community progress.
“The Black communities across Washington state have long done the work to uplift our communities without appropriate funding and resources,” said Angela Jones, CEO of Washington STEM. “The Black Future Co-op Fund will ensure that we have a strong infrastructure and network for sustainable progress.”
In addition to the Black Future Co-Op Fund partnership, the OL Reign is also addressing the underrepresentation of girls of color in youth soccer. Through a partnership with Boeing the club is able to provide two players of color and opportunity to participate in the OL Reign Academy during the upcoming 2021/22 season. “These girls have earned a chance to compete and deserve the opportunity to do so,” says OL Reign Academy executive director Amy Griffin. “We are thankful that Boeing will continue to support all the hard work the players invest to achieve their goals as athletes and individuals.”
“The Boeing Scholarship Program is a fantastic and much appreciated step towards equalizing the playing field for girls of color,” Griffin continues.
“They [Boeing] share our vision for a more equitable community and believe as we do that there is both an opportunity and obligation to take a leadership role in shaping tangible change in the world,” says Predmore. “Boeing has been an incredible supporter of our organization for many years, so we are grateful for their continued partnership.”
Giving back to the community is a part of the game as a professional athlete and the fact that this initiative has come to fruition is very meaningful to the players, and provides them with an opportunity to support a worthwhile initiative with pride.
“The fact that it’s something more than just lip service here is really nice because I don’t have to worry about those types of stresses off the field, I can just focus on my game,” says Hammond “I just think the partnership is really cool and I think that the Black Future Co-op Fund in itself is a really cool initiative, and it just deserves its recognition.”