Each year, the Cincinnati Bengals generate more than $1 million for community groups through direct Bengals corporate contributions, NFL Charities, and other efforts with business partners. With many great organizations, foundations and charities in the Greater Cincinnati area to support, the team has chosen to cast a broad net, supporting more than 100 organizations each year.
The team also averages 250-300 individual player appearances per year to schools, hospitals and other community sites. Every level of the organization — from players to owners to coaches to staff — is involved in the effort. It would be hard for the community to not have their lives touched by an organization supported by the Bengals.
The Bengals have many long-standing partnerships with organizations, foundations and charities that they support year after year.
“That’s the way it grew over the years,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “We believe it’s a good way to steer funds directly to agencies we trust to do a great job.”
Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn is a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. She makes regular visits to spend time with kids and is involved in the annual punt, pass and kick event, which players attend.
“It’s all about the kids,” said Blackburn. “To see the kids in the program and the opportunities the Boys and Girls Club gives them is very rewarding to be a part of.”
The Bengals and the NFL Foundation recently teamed up to contribute $200,000 to the Deer Park Community City Schools athletic department, topping off a fundraising effort that was used to install a new field. The grant is the latest in an ongoing program in which the Bengals and the NFL have coordinated to distribute $1.5 million to local schools for new football fields.
“New football fields are hard for a lot of these schools to fund,” said Blackburn. “It’s nice when you put the field in because they get a lot of use beyond football and are able to service many other sports and activities.”
There are substantial efforts undertaken by players, assistant coaches and alumni to give back to the community. The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation is a support program for seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in Cincinnati and Fort Worth. And Dre Kirkpatrick’s 21 Kids Foundation strives in part to improve public health, promote educational opportunities and enhance community development efforts.
The Marvin Lewis Community Fund, launched in 2003, has raised over $11.6 million to help empower youth education throughout Greater Cincinnati. Staff members get involved in several of Marvin Lewis Community Fund’s initiatives, including Hometown Huddle.
But one program stands out for the organization. In 2014, the team donated $1.3 million to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in honor of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still’s daughter Leah. Sale of the $100 jerseys benefited pediatric cancer research at the hospital. A total of 14,945 jerseys were ordered from all 50 states as well as from Canada, the UK and Australia, and the Bengals absorbed the production costs of the first 10,000 — a team cost of approximately $500,000 — allowing the full sale price to go to the hospital.
Amplifying others’ efforts
The emphasis on philanthropy and the drive behind the Brown family and the team’s ongoing charitable activities comes from the sense that they are in a unique position to make a substantial impact on the lives of those in need.
“We love being a part of the Greater Cincinnati community and want to do our part to help make the community better,” said Blackburn. “We have a big platform that gives us the opportunity to reach a lot of people that others can’t reach. Our goal is to amplify the already great work so many organizations, foundations and charities are doing in the Greater Cincinnati area.”
The organization has a strong commitment to making a difference in the community, generating more than $1 million each year for community groups. This includes direct Bengals corporate contributions, NFL Charities and other efforts with business partners.
Reach the Cincinnati Bengals at (513) 455-8484 or www.bengals.com