For Vikings linebacker Troy Dye, his focus for the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative is close to home. In quite the literal sense.
Dye supports The Leela Project, which originated in Riverside County, California, where Dye grew up.
The Leela Project is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing literacy training, mentorship and academic counseling for underrepresented youth in communities across California.
Dye grew up with the founder, Dominick, and actually played football with him in high school.
"(We) connected and hit it off. It's something that I was able to give back to," Dye said.
The Leela Project, named after Dominick's grandmother, equips the next generation with education and empowers them with confidence and a sense of purpose, knowing everyone's journey is indeed different.
He paid closer attention to The Leela Project at the beginning of the pandemic when he realized he was positioned to give back when many people were struggling.
For Dye, The Leela Project serves a specific initiative that resonates with him in a big way because the organization focuses on youth, specifically boys, who are misguided and misrepresented.
"I mean, a lot of youth, young boys, get overlooked because men are supposed to be strong and fight through on their own," Dye says. "Nobody cares about the feelings and the hardships you go through. We all go through things.
"To have that connection and give back, whether I'm physically there or not, it's huge," Dye continued. "With the resources I have, I try to give back."
With the means that Dye has as an NFL player, giving back was something he knew he had to do, especially for youth in an area he's plenty familiar with who might be dealing with an unstable homelife, financial struggles or a lack of support.
The third-year linebacker is grateful the My Cause My Cleats initiative helps him make a difference and has introduced him to worthy causes and initiatives supported by teammates and opponents.
"There's a lot of great causes out there; there's a lot of young people who are out here giving back, whether it's cancer, or [supporting] animals, people who are less fortunate," Dye said. "As pro athletes, we don't get recognized as human beings that like to support causes and have family and friends, so the NFL does a great job with allowing guys to showcase that. It opens eyes to a lot of great causes people don't know about."
You can learn more about The Leela Project here.