Sports and entertainment powerhouse Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, announced a commitment of $20 million to battle systemic racism.
Over the next five years, $10 million of this pledge will be allocated to cities where teams under the HBSE brand reside, such as Philadelphia and New Jersey. The company-wide initiative is also looking to strategically create a vehicle for social change and increase economic empowerment and development in Black communities nationwide.
HBSE is the latest sports company to step up and acknowledge its role in addressing racial inequity—a move that sports fans are indeed appreciating: more than 70% support teams and athletes who speak out on issues of social justice and racial equality.
HBSE has an ambitious plan. Its HBSE Real Estate’s Community Advancement Program will “advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through significant investments,” such as a minimum donation of $2.5 million to organizations and efforts that improve quality of life in underserved neighborhoods through employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents and youth programming. The project will also invest in real estate projects advancing Black neighborhoods, such as affordable housing and health centers.
To address the education gap, HBSE is committing $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation. The Philadelphia 76ers organization has also pledged to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 families in the School District of Philadelphia.
“As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be,” says HBSE Founder Josh Harris “While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality.”
That commitment extends to Black-owned businesses. Through its Buy Black Partnership Program, HBSE has also vowed to provide businesses with $5 million in marketing resources from the 76ers and Devils organizations through the “Buy Black Partnership Program” and, through its Diversity Procurement Program, will partner with organizations such as the African American Chamber of Commerce to facilitate Black expenditure.
Fostering an inclusive internal environment is another priority. HBSE plans to hire a Chief Diversity and Impact Officer to strengthen HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group. The new team member will lead support groups, workshops and a speaker series, and will manage partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines within the company.
To ensure efficacy, HBSE will need to make its continuing efforts extend across all of its brands and related organizations—including the NBA, NHL, Esports, Innovation Lab and the Prudential Center arena. Its leaders are up to the challenge.
“Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work and play,” says HBSE Cofounder David Blitzer. “We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve and our country as a whole.”
For(bes) The Culture is Forbes’ recently launched hub for Black and brown professionals.