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Roc Nation, NFL to Donate $400,000 to Chicago Charities

As part of their newly launched partnership, Roc Nation and the National Football League will donate $400,000 to two Chicago charities, the Better Boys Foundation Family Services organization and the Crusher’s Club, a source close to the situation confirmed to Variety. Both organizations are designed to present local at-risk youth with alternatives to gang violence and criminal activity; the donations are being handled through the Inspire Change program. The news was first reported by TMZ.

The donation is pegged to a free concert taking place on Thursday in the city’s Grant Park that will feature  Meek Mill, Meghan Trainor and Rapsody; it is the first in the “Songs of the Season” concert series that was announced last month at a press conference held by Jay-Z and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the partnership. The three performers, along with Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, will visit the programs this week.

The source said that this event will be the first in a planned Inspire Change series that will make similar donations in each NFL city. Songs of the Season is a season-long initiative in which selected musicians will create and deliver a song to be integrated in all NFL promotions each month. The songs will debut during an in-game broadcast and will be simultaneously released to all digital streaming platforms worldwide. All proceeds from the songs will go toward Inspire Change.

Jay-Z has weathered an unusual amount of criticism since the deal was announced, as he had previously slammed the NFL for its treatment of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose controversial symbolic kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality in the U.S. has essentially seen him drummed out of the league.

Jay and Goodell said that they both have had conversations with Kaepernick, but declined to reveal any details about those conversations, or what his stance on the partnership may be.

“I would never tell you what me and Kap’s private conversation was about,” Jay said, “but we spoke, yeah.” Reps for the quarterback later contested the pair’s characterization of the conversations.

Earlier, asked how he could enter into this partnership while Kaepernick remains without a team, Jay said, “I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice so in that case this is a success — this is the next thing. There’s two parts of protest: the protest, and then there’s a company or individual saying ‘I hear you, what do we do next?’ For me it’s about actionable items, what are we gonna do about it? We get stuck on Colin not having a job, you know what I’m saying? And this is more than that.

“I support any protest that’s effective,” he continued. “I’m into action, I’m into real work — I’m not into how it looks from the outside. If protesting on the field is the most effective way, then protest on the field. But if you have a vehicle that can inspire change and speak to the masses at the same time, it’s hard to steal the narrative away.”

Asked if Kaepernick has been blackballed, Goodell said that “any team” can sign him.

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