Rachel Robinson (left) and NYCFC vice chairman Marty Edelman. (Photo courtesy of NYCFC)

NEW YORK – New York City FC and the Jackie Robinson Foundation Tuesday announced a multi-year partnership to take action in support of Black Lives Matter initiatives focused in and around the five boroughs.

Headquartered in New York City, JRF was established in 1973 by Rachel Robinson to perpetuate the legacy of her husband, Jackie Robinson, by addressing the persistent and unacceptable achievement gap in higher education.

As part of this new civic engagement partnership, NYCFC will support JRF with a multi-year grant to sponsor a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar from the five boroughs that will be selected in next spring 2021 as part of the class of 2025.

“The Jackie Robinson Foundation is excited to be engaged with the New York City Football Club, which has signed on to support our work in higher education and to partner around promoting diversity and affecting positive change in the community,” foundation CEO and president Della Britton Baeza said in a statement. “We look forward to connecting NYCFC to our impressive college Scholars and to the legacy of Jackie Robinson and our 98-year-old founder Rachel Robinson – and their lifelong efforts promoting equal opportunity.”

The grant will provide the scholar with a four-year, college scholarship and participation in JRF’s celebrated, year-round Mentoring and Leadership Development Program. NYCFC also will use the club’s platforms, games and other events to bring awareness to the foundation’s work. The Jackie Robinson Museum, under construction in Manhattan, will provide another venue for joint educational programming and other activities to bolster the partnership.

In June, NYCFC announced several internal and external commitments to advance Black Lives Matter causes. Through this partnership, JRF will support several club commitments, using its experience to help NYCFC make a deeper impact in the local community.

“I was privileged to work with Jackie Robinson in his career as a courageous civil rights leader as well as business leader – focused on promoting opportunity for Black Americans,” said Mary Edelman, NYCFC vice chairman and founding board member of the JRF. “It has been an honor to work with Rachel Robinson, an iconic leader of improving educational opportunities for young Black Americans, to create the Jackie Robinson Foundation. To be part of the opportunity to join NYCFC and JRF in the campaign against racism follows in that tradition.

“This is an incredibly important moment in our history and as the soccer club of New York City, it is our social responsibility and privilege to enhance and increase the opportunities available for young people of color and to support the critical effort to eradicate obstacles based on prejudice in our society. This grant represents the launch of our collaborative partnership as we work to continue to better lives through sports.”

Initial partnership activity around the club’s commitments include:

* Access and education – Engage staff around training and educational programming. Collaboratively develop a strategy to diversify the pool of applicants for the club’s internship recruitment process.

* Engage and support – Together, create widespread staff volunteering and mentoring opportunities to further amplify the partnership work.

* Celebrate and amplify – Involve JRF and its scholars into annual club events designed to celebrate, support and amplify the Black Lives Matter movement, including an annual Black Lives heritage home game.

The NYCFC First Team players – who have been playing an active role growing awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando – will also be a key part of this partnership through ambassador programming and training and education.

“This partnership will continue to grow and expand creatively over the years with the aim of ensuring that Jackie Robinson’s commitment to equal opportunity and humanitarianism will be carried forward in the lives of our players, fans, staff and partners using the power of soccer,” NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said in a statement.

“We are tremendously proud to be the soccer team of New York City – and as such, we will focus our efforts in and around the five boroughs to have an even more meaningful impact on the local communities we are honored to represent.”