Bears pledge more than $500,000 to local social justice reform groups

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Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho, the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, shows a Walter Payton sticker in December. (AP)

Bears players committed to donate more than $250,000 to local social justice groups Tuesday. With matching funds through a new NFL program, the team total will surpass $500,000, the team said.

The Bears have yet to choose the groups, but has consulted with the University of Chicago Crime Lab to see where the money could be best used. They’ll donate to groups that focus on education, community and police relations and criminal justice reform.

The Bears are the first team to utilize the NFL’s matching funds. In March, the league said each club would match player contributions, up to $250,000 per year, for social justice reform.

The team created a five-player social justice committee, comprised of outside linebacker Sam Acho, quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel, defensive end Akiem Hicks and tight end Trey Burton, who solicited money from their teammates. Four front office members are part of the committee, too, including chairman George McCaskey.

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In a video released by the team featuring the five players and McCaskey, the group named former quarterback Colin Kaepernick by name in discussing the need for social change. Kaepernick protested police brutality and social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.

In the video, Trubisky said he hopes other teams follow suit with their own donations.

“Hopefully this creates some sort of domino effect,” he said.

Acho, the team’s union rep and their nominee last year for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and McCaskey have been active in the community for the past year. The two have visited the Louisiana State Penitentiary, met with the Chicago Police Superintendent and visted the National Museum of African American History in Culture in Washington, D.C., together.

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