For the past 15-18 months commemorating any date has been a task as days seem to just string together as one continuous, monotonous time frame. One day, however, has scarred the psyche of millions that were painfully unaware or willingly naive to a stark reality that for centuries has plagued the tenets of not just America but civilization as a whole. On that day, May 25, 2020, a video was taken that revealed the final 9 minutes and 29 seconds of a man’s life taken by members of an agency sworn to protect and serve. The subsequent reactions were unlike anything the world has ever seen; it was literally seen as the final act to the explosive finale to civilized man. In the midst of a global pandemic, there was still time and opportunity to reveal the disdain and disrespect for the life of a Black man, but unlike the million occurrences prior, this one struck a chord. What followed were months of protests, some with the same malicious intent used to incite their actions, others with the polar opposite approach, in more than 60 countries across the world gathered to raise their collective voices to say enough is enough.

With that in mind The George Floyd Memorial Center (GFMC) declared May 25, 2021 as the annual Day of Enlightenment (5/25 D.O.E.), to serve as a permanent reminder to Black Americans as well as other marginalized communities across the world that our voices were finally heard and will no longer be silenced or ignored.

“George’s death, after his life was taken so inhumanely by a rogue police officer, will not be in vain,” said Roger Floyd, chief impact officer for the GFMC, and George Floyd Jr.’s paternal uncle, known affectionately as Uncle Roger. “We will continue to unapologetically move the needle forward for real change, and we want everyone in communities all over the country and world to join us.”

Lending assistance to some of the wounds exposed during this turbulent condition is NBA All-Star/Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and two-time Olympic soccer gold medalist Lauren Holiday, through their JLH Social Impact Fund, which will provide grants to organizations and small businesses in Greater Milwaukee, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles areas, with priority given to those focused on social impact and creating a more equitable future for underserved communities.

In 2019-2020, Jrue pledged the remainder of his NBA salary ($5.3 million) to create the JLH Fund, providing the first round of grants in the fall of 2020. The second round of funding will again provide up to $1,000,000 to Black-led nonprofit organizations and Black-owned businesses.

“When we first decided to start this fund, it was at an inflection point of two pandemics—the disproportionate effects that COVID-19 had on the Black community and businesses, and equally as devastating, the murders of George Floyd and many other unarmed Black people—resulting in an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help people through the JLH Fund and will continue to do this work and make the greatest impact possible,” said the Holidays.

Alexys Feaster, founder of The Kinship Advisors, is managing the JLH Social Impact Fund and added, “This next phase of the JLH Fund is taking a holistic approach to bring Jrue and Lauren’s long-term vision to life because doing this work right goes beyond the donations. Understanding the values of Jrue and Lauren, we are bringing as many resources as we can to the people and the communities most in need. Black communities and businesses have been historically overlooked and underfunded and with the JLH Fund, we are building a community of support.”

With grantees working with Renee King, founder of Fund Black Founders, there will be coaching and training for the JLH Fund grantees to expand funding opportunities and community engagement. The JLH Fund is also working with Microsoft’s Nonprofit Tech Acceleration (NTA) for Black & African American Communities so all nonprofits that apply to the JLH Fund will get technology and support services to remove IT barriers and increase the impact of their missions. Darrell Booker, head of Microsoft NTA shared, “Building a community of support for Black and African American nonprofits is fundamental in advancing their missions. We look forward to working with these nonprofits to ensure they have the technology they need to be as efficient and productive as possible in their operations.”

Feaster added, “This is all just the start. We look forward to working with people who want to serve communities in need. Whether they are other athletes, companies, philanthropists, or community leaders, let’s partner to make the impact as great as possible.”

First round recipient of the JLH Fund, Jacob Adams, founder of Stem to the Future, shared, “The JLH grant provided my team with capital that supported us in training educators in Los Angeles on how to create and facilitate justice-based STEAM curriculum. We were able to use the funds to pay our facilitators, design curriculum, and provide observations and debriefs with educators, which enabled us to accomplish our goal of providing Black and Latinx students with hands-on learning experiences to solve real world problems.”

Lemel Durrah, also a first round recipient and founder of Compton Vegan, an affordable and healthy alternative to everyday foods, was able to use the JLH Fund grant during the pandemic to secure a food truck to remain in business. He served Compton and surrounding cities labeled as food deserts and swamps with plant-based dishes.

Elliott Hutchinson, from Son of a Saint in New Orleans, an organization that provides support for fatherless young men, added, “Aligning with an organization that has a shared interest in positively impacting your community is extremely empowering. The Jrue and Lauren Holiday Fund takes philanthropic support a step further—they are truly invested in growing the capacity of their partner organizations to affect meaningful change.”

With the quality of athletes in and around the Tri-State area let’s see what kind of programs will develop here.

Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.