EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings Social Justice Committee has been making impacts in the community and impressions in the locker room for the past few years.
Since its launch in 2018, members of the committee have focused on how to make meaningful changes in lives and have ramped up efforts to help organizations united in the fight against hate, racism and inequality.
The efforts intensified in June 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, in Minneapolis with a $5 million commitment from the Wilf family and team to social justice causes throughout the United States, with $1 million to be allocated directly by the Social Justice Committee.
Nonprofit and social enterprise All Square was selected to receive $250,000 last year to continue its professional development and civil rights efforts.
The Social Justice Committee is continuing its work to allocate more funds to help solve problems and received another boost from the Julie and Kirk Cousins Foundation, which was established in 2018 and committed $500,000 last week.
The donation was first reported Tuesday by the Star Tribune's Ben Goessling.
Cousins was asked about the donation during his weekly Wednesday media session.
"For me, or really for my wife and I, and our family foundation, it was really a no-brainer. We've observed the work that our social justice group here with the Vikings and our locker room has done, really, since before I got here," Cousins said. "It's just been very impressive the way players have led, and there's just been players very involved. And I've observed and just been really impressed."
Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson said the donation "touched my heart."
"Very, very grateful for him to do that," Patterson said. "It's something that he did not have to do. It's tremendous that he's showing that kind of support to our group and helping our group go out and help more people.
"So I'm very prideful for him, and happy that he did that," Patterson said. "I told him that, thanked him for that for that."
The Social Justice Committee meets regularly behind the scenes to discuss future ways to help and organizations' proposals for grants. The Wilf family had previously committed another $250,000 this year.
Patterson, 61, said a major goal is for younger people to see brighter futures. He said when he was growing up in Richmond, California, it was referred to as "the murder capital of the United States."
"So I've seen some things that are pretty terrible, from elementary school to middle school to high school to junior college," Patterson said. "I know if you put in the time and the effort and keep fighting and never give up, that you have a chance to bring other people along. Things get better and better over time.
"It never changes overnight," he continued. "It's always a constant struggle, OK? But I'm standing in front of you today, and I guarantee you when I was in high school that you never would have thought that would have happened, but my mom stayed on me, I was fortunate to have coaches that backed me, and for me to see that there's a different way of living life, and that's what it's about, to show these young men and women out there that there is hope and they have a chance to be better, and what they're living in and seeing isn't what life is all about, and they do have a chance to succeed."
And that's why Patterson is so passionate about the Social Justice Committee, calling it "one of the most prideful things that I've done since I've been here."
"I'm just hoping that when I'm no longer here, that it carries on because I think it has something to help create huge change in not just Minneapolis, but in Minnesota," Patterson said. "Hopefully, it's something that carries on for a long time. It really means a lot to me."