Eagles Care (The Philadelphia Eagles): Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: The Eagles’ philanthropy supports youth, education, healthy food, mentoring, and cancer care in the Greater Philadelphia region. Capacity building is the core of this funder’s support.

FUNDING AREAS: Youth, education, healthy food, mentoring and leadership, cancer.

IP TAKE: Don’t call yourself a grantseeker or a grantee: Eagles Care is all about teamwork and partnership. Sure, there’s money involved, but getting the Eagles’ support is more about long-term connections and networking than anything else.

PROFILE: The Philadelphia Eagles created Eagles Care in 2013. Through this program, the Eagles typically choose five nonprofits to support each year, all in the Greater Philadelphia region. According to the Eagles’ website:

The Eagles support hundreds of non-profits in the Greater Philadelphia area through year-round Community Relations efforts. Core to that work is the Eagles Care initiative built off of our belief that strong non-profits build strong communities.  Through these season-long strategic partnerships with non-profits we are able to jointly increase the positive impact to a community we share.

In a recent year, the group chose as its partners the Family Lives On Foundation, Greener Partners, Little Smiles, Northern Children’s Services, and Steppingstone Scholars. The previous year, the Eagles partnered with the Center for Grieving Children, Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia and Simon’s Fund. The inaugural year of the Eagles Care initiative in 2013 included Bringing Hope Home, Cradles to Crayons, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger and the Riverbend Environmental Education Center. You can view current Eagle Care partners here on the Eagles Care website.

At the end of the season-long partnerships, nonprofit partners become part of the Eagles Care network and continue to collaborate with the Eagles and each other on community outreach events and campaigns. The Eagles also participate in “Community Monday,” which involves the players volunteering on their off day, and an annual healthy food drive. Eagles’ community events are often focused around children and youth in need of mentorship, positive influences, and guidance to healthy choices.

In the past, Eagles Care has posted a questionnaire around February/March of each year on the Eagles’ website. After a few months of reviewing applications and conducting interviews to determine if there’s a match, decisions are often made in July. The group has also organized an Eagles Care Summit in recent years to bring nonprofit leaders together for employee development—a free service for nonprofits.

Julie Hirshey leads Eagles Care as the director of community relations. The staff here works on an “advocate basis,” in which each staff member is assigned to a few different nonprofits to work with.

After a re-evaluation of overall giving for the team, the Eagles decided to take a more non-traditional approach to charitable giving. It uses the skills of the Eagles organizations and expertise to teach nonprofits how to be the best versions of themselves. Eagles Care conducts a needs assessment for potential partners to determine what nonprofits need the most and how it can assist as a partner. Hirshey and her staff chat with the organizations they support pretty much on a daily basis for at least a year, and often beyond.

“We don’t call them grant recipients because that feels more one-way,” explained Hirshey. “We favor relationships that develop among organizations and consider them partners. Money is obviously important and core to our program, but by the end of the year, our organizations are intertwined.”

General questions can be sent through the Eagles’ online contact form and directed to the community relations team.

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