January 18, 2021 – Following the success of the organization’s Swarm The Polls initiative around the 2020 elections, Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) today officially launched its Social Justice Platform, which includes elements related to economic mobility and racial equity, in addition to voting. As part of the launch, the organization unveiled a website at hornets.com/social-justice-platform that will include information on HSE’s initiatives, as well as links to external resources and organizations.
“We are pleased to unveil our full Social Justice Platform as we look to make a meaningful impact in the areas of economic mobility, racial equity and voting,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “We are glad to use our voice to raise awareness and provide support around topics that are so important to our community. While social justice is not a new focus for our organization, we are excited about continuing to be more intentional about how we position our efforts.”
The new Social Justice Platform will most immediately focus on economic mobility, a topic that remains important to the local community following a 2014 Harvard study that ranked Charlotte 50th out of 50 among the country’s largest cities in economic mobility, meaning that a child born into poverty in Charlotte has a greater chance of remaining impoverished as they get older than any other major city in the United States. HSE will launch a series of efforts aimed at increasing social capital, raising awareness of these struggles, and providing resources, mentorship and education for those who need it.
Beginning today, applications are being accepted for the first-ever Hornets Innovation Summit at hornets.com/innovation-summit. This initiative invites businesses/groups located within 150 miles of Spectrum Center that are at least 51% operated and controlled by minority group members (i.e., individuals who are at least 25% Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American) to submit pitches for a chance to receive a $15,000 investment from the Charlotte Hornets Foundation. Applicants that are selected to move on to Round 2 will have their one-minute pitch videos posted on hornets.com and social media outlets for fan voting. The five finalists, which will be determined through a combination of fan voting and an internal Hornets selection committee, will present their products to a panel of experts in a live webinar in March. The application deadline is February 2.
As part of the Innovation Summit, HSE is partnering with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a national nonprofit that provides current and aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledge, tools and support to grow businesses. Each applicant will receive one year of free access to the Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community.
In addition, when the Hornets host the Chicago Bulls this Friday, the game will be themed around economic mobility, in partnership with Bank of America. The evening will be a continuation of the 50/50 Night for Change that was held during a game in March 2019. Before and during the contest, the Hornets will highlight local economic mobility efforts and inform fans how they can participate on the Hornets App, social media outlets and the game broadcasts on FOX Sports Southeast and WFNZ.
Racial equity overlays economic mobility, voting and many other topics, and can be defined as the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone in order to form a society where all people can achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity, or the community in which they live. HSE’s efforts to help with racial equity will focus on education and career development, economic advancement and social consciousness. This builds on the organization’s internal priority of using an equitable lens when activating initiatives and programs. In recent years, HSE has added a focus on Black-owned businesses as part of the 2020 Week of Service; celebrated Black Philanthropy Month and CLT Gives Black, promoting Black-owned, Black-led and Black-benefitting organizations; restructured the Pick and Read program to highlight Black authors and books with Black main characters; and ensured the Barings Book Bus is stocked with similar books.
As the third phase of the Social Justice Platform, HSE will continue its engagement on voting that started last fall with the Swarm The Polls campaign, which sought to educate the public about the importance of voting, inform people on how to vote, drive voter registration and encourage voter turnout. The organization will continue to promote voting and help drive registration and turnout every year for local elections, not just every four years for national elections.
To celebrate the launch of the Social Justice Platform, the Hornets corporate social responsibility team today and tomorrow will be restocking libraries at 15 recreation centers that were installed in “education deserts” throughout Charlotte’s “crescent” area last March as part of last year’s Charlotte Hornets Foundation Education Grant.