Harris Blitzer pledges $20M to fight systemic racism

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 17, 2020//

Harris Blitzer pledges $20M to fight systemic racism

Gabrielle Saulsbery//August 17, 2020//

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Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the New Jersey Devils, on Monday unveiled a company-wide action plan to fight systemic racism, pledging $10 million to drive action and invest in cities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

HBSE committed an additional $10 million contribution from the 76ers to the NBA’s newly announced foundation aimed at driving economic empowerment in Black communities.

“As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be. While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality,” said Josh Harris, HBSE founder, in a prepared statement. “We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with Black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support. We are deeply committed to fighting for a better, more inclusive future and we pledge to be leaders in doing so.”

The co-founders of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
The co-founders of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Josh Harris and David Blitzer. – NJBIZ FILE PHOTO

The commitment is manifold.

To invest in Black communities, HBSE plans on partnering with Black developers, local community groups and officials through its Real Estate’s Community Advancement Program. HBSE will donate a minimum of $2.5 million to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities, such as employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents, public space improvements, and youth programming; and has pledged consistent capital commitments into development projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods, including affordable housing, health centers, and commercial corridor improvements.

To support Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs, HBSE announced plans to implement new initiatives, including a contribution by the Philadelphia 76ers and the NJ Devils of more than $5 million in marketing assets via HBSE’s new Buy Black Partnership Program. And through partnerships with organizations like the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ and DE, HBSE plans to increase expenditure with Black-owned businesses through its new Diversity Procurement Program.

To promote education, health and employment, HBSE will commit $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation to support positive education, health and employment outcomes in Black communities. This commitment builds upon efforts made by HBSE to promote racial equity in Newark, Camden and Philadelphia, according to the organization, including a pledge from the 76ers to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 School District of Philadelphia families; and the recent endowment of separate donations made to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County.

New Jersey Devil P.K. Subban in the NHL Black History Month Tour Bus.
New Jersey Devil P.K. Subban in the NHL Black History Month Tour Bus. – HARRIS BLITZER SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The endowment was inspired by NJ Devils Defenseman P.K. Subban’s $50,000 donation to the GoFundMe campaign dedicated to Gionna Floyd, the 6-year-old daughter of the late George Floyd, which was subsequently matched by the NHL.

Lastly, to amplify a workplace of respect, inclusion and diversity, HBSE will hire a chief diversity and impact officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization. HBSE plans to strengthen its diversity and inclusion advisory board and new Black employee resource group with support groups, workshops and a speaker series to foster continued race-based education, empathy and mindfulness within our organizational culture.

Additionally, the company will focus on new recruitment, retention and career advancement programs to increase the representation of Black and minority employees across HBSE; and it plans to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines and exposure at HBSE.

“It is crucial for us to take action in fighting against systemic racism and social injustices, which have persisted for far too long,” said HBSE co-founder David Blitzer. “Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work and play. We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve and our country as a whole.”