Chicago Bears commit $500K to social justice programs
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The Chicago Bears announced Tuesday that the organization is committing at least $500,000 toward social justice initiatives in the city, with a focus on education and community police relations.

The NFL team announced in a video on social media that players intend to raise $250,000 for social justice programs, a contribution that ownership will match.

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"This whole thing got started a little over two years ago when obviously Colin Kaepernick and some players around the NFL were taking knees, and there was a big discussion about what can we as players and as a team do to help address some of the issues that people are protesting," Bears linebacker Sam Acho said.

"And so that’s why we got together and said not only do we want to do stuff in the community, but we also want to put our money behind it," he added.

Acho and other players discussed the need for players to go out into the community and establish relationships with the people who will benefit from their donations. The players expressed hope that the Bears financial commitment will spur a snowball effect around the league.

Lineman Akiem Hicks added that players around the league have previously gotten involved in social justice initiatives, but the team's new financial commitment will mark an escalation in those efforts.

"This is just a big step in saying we are fully committed, we’re all in," Hicks said. "I think that’s a great issue that was brought up by Kaepernick."

Kaepernick became the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem roughly two years ago as part of an effort to raise awareness of social injustice.

Dozens have NFL players have taken a knee, raised a fist or remained off the field during the anthem in the time since to protest injustice, but Kaepernick has remained unsigned by a team since the end of the 2016 season.

The Bears' financial commitment comes as a result of a partnership announced last year between the NFL and its players to address social justice issues raised by Kaepernick and other players, particularly in minority communities.

The agreement allotted $89 million in funding over seven years from the league for social justice projects. It also stipulated that each team owner can put up $250,000, with the players expected to match that amount.

Players and owners can each exceed the $250,000, but the other side would not be expected to match the additional amount.

Nike recently made Kaepernick the face of its latest campaign ad, prompting criticism from President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE and other vocal conservatives.

Trump has repeatedly criticized players who have protested during the anthem, calling for them to be fired and questioned whether they belong in the country.