Three months after Minnesota Vikings ownership pledged $5 million for social justice causes throughout the United States in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the team’s social justice committee will announce on Tuesday nearly $1 million to go toward the launch and expansion of multiple initiatives throughout the Twin Cities.

The Vikings created the George Floyd Legacy Scholarship with a $125,000 endowment to benefit Black graduating seniors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Mimi Kol-Balfour, the inaugural recipient, was awarded the scholarship last week in a meeting with Vikings co-owner/team president Mark Wilf, general manager Rick Spielman and members of the social justice committee. Kol-Balfour, a graduate of Southwest High School in Minneapolis, begins online classes at Barnard College on Tuesday and will explore a blended economics/political science degree with a minor in African studies.

“We want to have an impact and some hope that we’re on the road toward a better future,” Wilf said. “What better way could you have it than giving a scholarship to someone? We need our young people. They’re going to be part of developing a better future and education is always the key; to turn what happened to George Floyd and all the other tragedies towards a positive where we can support the education of young people.”

Kol-Balfour submitted an essay detailing a plan to fight injustices in her community where she discussed her research on the discrepancies of marginalized groups. Her primary area of focus was on voter ethics and the micro-issues that impact voter participation and access.

That’s a cause being championed by the Vikings’ social justice committee. Together with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and Rock the Vote, the Vikings are using their platform to encourage fan voter registration (with a separate goal of having 100% of the organization registered to vote in the November election), are donating $20,000 in personal protective equipment for local polling workers and have launched a PSA campaign called “Be The Change,” focused on voter education.

“It’s not necessarily to persuade anyone to vote a certain way, it’s just to be active in your community,” linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “This is a small step we can all take to take action and sometimes we just give up that right. It’s important that we understand that we’ve got to be involved in the process, especially if we’re going to make a change, it’s important that we take action in the process and things that we can get done in order for us to have an opinion on things.”

The Vikings also offered U.S. Bank Stadium to the Secretary of State’s office as a polling location for the November election, but local polling places had already been set for this cycle, according to Wilf.

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