Long before Andrew Whitworth made it into the National Football League, he knew he wanted to help others.
As a child, he volunteered to wrap groceries for customers at the local grocery store. As he got older, he realized that people didn’t have the same opportunities in life that he enjoyed.
“As I took a step in my career, my life, when I felt like I had something more, gave me the opportunity to give something back,” said Whitworth, now 39 and an attacking forward for the Los Angeles Rams.
Whitworth’s efforts to change something have not gone unnoticed.
The NFL veteran was nominated for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service. The winner will be announced on February 6, the day before the Super Bowl.
His contributions were numerous, including a donation of $ 50,000 along with his wife to a black-owned business in Inglewood, California that struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. He also donated $ 250,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
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Perhaps most notably, however, is Whitworth’s focus on eliminating educational inequalities in underserved communities. To this end, he has funded science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) laboratories at two schools in the Los Angeles area. He has plans to build more in various schools in the city.
“One of the things we wanted to do is give children the opportunity to learn alternatively and develop in a place where they can really create and develop knowledge,” said Whitworth.
I hope they feel that the opportunity for them to be what they want and achieve what they want is right in front of them.
LA Rams player
There have long been inequalities in education and the coronavirus pandemic made it worse. Those who live in the poorest 20% of American neighborhoods will experience the most persistent and negative effects from pandemic school closings, according to a recent study at Yale.
In these communities, post-school earnings potential for ninth graders will drop by 25%, even if the remaining school years return to normal. In comparison, there are no significant losses for those in the richest 20% of US neighborhoods, according to the study.
LA Rams player Andrew Whitworth
Courtesy LA Rams
Whitworth hopes his STEAM labs will not only fill this void, but also send a positive message to students.
“I hope they feel that the opportunity for them to be what they want and achieve what they want is right in front of them,” he said.
Going forward, Whitworth hopes to continue to work to improve the playing field for people in underserved communities.
“We want to find the next thing we can do to help these children learn,” he said.
“Teach them to find something they love and develop a passion.”
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