Malcolm Jenkins is determined to walk his talk.
The three-time Pro Bowl safety and two-time Super Bowl champion has been on the front lines fighting for social justice and racial equality for years. He backs it up with action.
The latest plans are for the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation to expand its free digital curriculum, Power Pathway Academy. The e-curriculum program offers students exposure to a wide variety of potential careers for both college-bound and non-college bound students such as filmmaking, design, digital marketing, coding, advertising, music, apparel and more through an innovative micro-learning platform designed to engage youth on their devices through culturally relevant learning experiences.
“How do we effectuate change for more kids? How do we get more exposure and more people into our programs?” Mr. Jenkins said July 29 in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. “One of the ways that we wanted to do that was expand our programming onto a digital platform, a virtual experience that we could share with kids from anywhere, and not just the kids that were physically in our programs.”
Mr. Jenkins said he didn’t feel many schools adequately equip students, particularly those in underserved communities, with the knowledge or employability skills required for navigating toward high-demand jobs in a competitive and digital work force.
The coronavirus pandemic made the problem “exponentially worse” so Mr. Jenkins’ foundation is fast-tracking implementation of the program.
“We’re creating a curriculum that will teach kids how to become proficient in these digital tools, whether they’re going to college or whether they’re just going right into the work force, but also being able to tell stories of different people who’ve taken different career paths and made it work for themselves in this context and even myself,” Mr. Jenkins said. “I started a clothing company. I never went to fashion school, never went to business school. And so teaching kids that they can become entrepreneurs, they can find lanes for themselves outside of the traditional norms, because now nothing’s traditional in this new kind of Covid normal.
Mr. Jenkins, the co-founder of the Players Coalition, has been working to do more than protest against police brutality and racism. He’s involved in various initiatives that impact systemic, social and civic change in the areas of police and community relations, criminal justice reform and education and economic advancement in low-income communities.
He and others players have enlisted the NFL’s help in providing funding to help their causes. More players are following his lead.
Mr. Jenkins has plenty on his plate as an activist, a businessman and one of the best football players at his position. He also joined CNN this summer as a contributor focusing on racial and social justice and his Listen Up Media company is producing a documentary series on the history of Black wealth in America. He became the first African American professional athlete to be named a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History.
Football remains his passion, even at age 32 and entering his 12th season in the league.
“I love giving back to the community and all of these other things,” he said. “But football is still a game that I love. And it’s really where I find my peace.” (AP)