Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are offering a scholarship — but this one goes way beyond football

Dolphins owner talks about players kneeling down during anthem after Trump's comments

Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross comments on players kneeling down and locking arms during the national anthem in a game against the New York Jets on September 24, 2017.
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Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross comments on players kneeling down and locking arms during the national anthem in a game against the New York Jets on September 24, 2017.

Here’s how the Dolphins have gotten beyond the knee:

They are now accepting applications for a new social-justice fund — and will soon award a scholarship to one deserving local student and grants to programs committed to enacting change.

In November, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and players including Michael Thomas announced a yearly fund for advocacy and social justice.

That was in response to demonstrations by players throughout the league promoting equality and criminal justice reform. Thomas and teammates Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas knelt during the national anthem this fall to protest what they viewed as unfair treatment by police of African Americans.

The players came under heavy criticism for their decision — including from President Donald Trump.

But they also made an impact. They got an audience with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and were part of a coalition of players who met with Ross and other team owners to advance their agenda.

From those discussions, an idea locally was born:

“To identify and recognize groups focused on community engagement, education and justice reform,” said Jason Jenkins, a Dolphins’ senior vice president. “It was important to Stephen Ross, our players and members of the organization to use sports as a way to drive social progress and make substantial change in our community.”

Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills talks about why he decided to take a knee during the national anthem before the Dolphins game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Dolphins will each year award a Project Change college scholarship to one deserving student committed to enacting social justice change. They will also provide funding to groups with the same goal, sponsor the Police Athletic League of North Miami and host a police and youth conference in conjunction with the 5000 Role Models Excellence Project.

These programs are in addition to the team’s work with RISE, a non-profit started in 2015 that uses sports to promote understanding, respect and equality.

Only 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible for a grant, which will range between $5,000 and $25,000. The scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors from Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties.

The deadline for both programs is Feb. 28. To apply, visit Dolphins.com.

Miami Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross, and Executive Director of Rise Niddi Massay during press conference on the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. Video by Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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