Players Coalition at Super Bowl 56: Building Momentum with a New Model for Juvenile Justice

Players Coalition, a nonprofit founded by NFL players Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins, is dedicated to making an impact on social justice and racial inequality. In partnership with Cafe Momentum and Stand Together Foundation (a philanthropic organization committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in America by driving change from within communities), Players Coalition and justice-involved youth teamed up with a Food Truck to feed the Super Bowl press on Radio Row. 


“I’m proud to partner with Stand Together Foundation and the Players Coalition to bring Café Momentum’s innovative model back to the Super Bowl. I am so inspired to witness how Café Momentum supports and empowers the youth in its program. If you ask me, these amazing young people are the real MVPs of Super Bowl week.” (Dhani Jones, Former NFL Athlete, Entrepreneur, and Stand Together Ambassador)  


Dhani Jones spent 11 years in the NFL playing for the NY Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a Fellow of the second class of the Civil Society Fellowship, a Partnership of ADL, and The Aspen Global Leadership Network. Mr. Jones is also a Stand Together Ambassador and the Emcee of the Café Momentum Pop-Up Dinner at the L.A. Super Bowl.  


A delicious meal of southern chicken, biscuits, greens, and iced tea sponsored by Café Momentum was prepared and served by justice-impacted youth and members of the Players Coalition. Café Momentum, an award-winning Dallas-based nonprofit restaurant, provides 12-month paid internships with life-changing support to youth exiting the juvenile justice system. The food truck pop-up concept is designed to change hearts and minds about the ability of at-risk youth to contribute while starting much-needed community conversations about juvenile justice across the country. 


Café Momentum is a restaurant staffed by youth leaving the juvenile justice system who are often disregarded by society. Café Momentum offers a family atmosphere of acceptance and accountability that enables young people to rise and meet lofty expectations, transforming not only the lives of formerly incarcerated youth but also every customer that eats at their restaurant. As interns interact with the customers, stereotypes are broken and mutual respect is built. 


The Sports Philanthropy Network team was blessed to share our lunch at a picnic table with New Orleans Saints All-Pro Linebacker, Players Coalition Task Force Member, and “Man of God”, Demario Davis. Demario says, “Players Coalition is proud to partner with Café Momentum and like-minded organizations to bring out the best in youth exiting the youth justice system. The future of these young men and women is important. They deserve equal access to opportunities that help them reach their full potential. By working together with the NFL, Café Momentum, and Stand Together, we all hope to engage a conversation around youth justice and the potential for programs like these to transform young lives.” 


Demario is an All-Pro Linebacker for the Saints and Players Coalition Key Player. His areas of interest include education, immigration/ICE, funding public defenders, voting, and prosecutor accountability. He also founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation which equips the next generation of leaders with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally, and physically. 


Players Coalition is a nonprofit organization partnering with professional athletes, coaches, and owners across the leagues. By advocating, empowering, investing, and serving the coalition aims to use its collective impact to create systemic change and forge a more just and equitable society. Using initiative-taking, solution-based preventative, and restorative efforts to address critical issues, the Players Coalition brings together key partners to harness the power, influence, and social capital of athletes to support underinvested communities. 

With support from Stand Together Foundation, Momentum Advisory Collective (the parent company driving the national expansion of Café Momentum) is working hard to build community support to open a Café Momentum restaurant in Los Angeles by 2024. According to the Stand Together Foundation, close to forty million Americans still live below the poverty line, and social mobility is on the decline. We must address the root causes of poverty through innovative solutions designed by the individuals closest to the problem. Stand Together Foundation helps people improve their lives by partnering with social entrepreneurs that are bringing innovative, community-based solutions to their communities that are impactful and inspire others through their stories of transformation. 


It was great to see NFL athletes Shaun Alexander, Demario Davis, Chris Draft, and Dhani Jones on-site to promote and support this event with Momentum Ambassadors. The Momentum Ambassadors are former interns who helped cook the food and serve lunch along with Players Coalition members. 


NFL Legend, Stand Together Ambassador, and Players Coalition Member Shaun Alexander said, “Café Momentum shows what is possible when you put the right system of support around young people who have made mistakes early in life and believe in their potential. The NFL Family and Players Coalition have also embraced this transformational organization and we thank the Stand Together Foundation for how they are helping Café Momentum expand their important work across the country.” 


Shaun was drafted in the first round of the 2000 season by the Seattle Seahawks and set multiple franchise records as well as being named the NFL MVP in 2005. He finished his career as one of only nine Running Backs in NFL history to rush over one hundred career touchdowns and led Seattle to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Shaun partners with philanthropic organizations focused on themes of community, faith, leadership, and the power of teamwork. He serves as a board member of Prison Fellowship, an organization spreading hope in correctional facilities to restore lives, communities, and families.  


To empower every person, we must unite to shift paradigms. Breaking the biggest barriers and transforming communities require the movements of millions of people. Everyone has a gift—and with the right mindset and support, they can discover and apply those gifts to improve their lives and meaningfully contribute to the lives of others. 


-Kayla Bradham

John Elizalde

John Elizalde

Sports Philanthropy Network

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