Since April 2018, more than $25M in grants have been awarded to social justice organizations as apart of the NFL Inspire Change initiative. In that initiative includes 18 national grant recipients and over 500 grants awarded to current and former NFL players who are creating progress in police-community relations, criminal justice reform, and education and economic advancement.

An original partner of the Inspire Change initiative was the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Terrill Hanks, who just wrapped his first season as a linebacker on the Miami Dolphins practice squad, was a part of the program in high school and was matched with a Big Brother. That brother was the University of Miami defensive end, Allen Bailey. Allen taught Terrill a ton of information prior to heading to the NFL, which included relighting the spark for playing football.

It was great growing up in Miami. It is very competitive growing up too, especially with football and the thing with my mom was at first she didn’t allow us to play football,” Hanks said. “Then I got with my big brother, Allen Bailey, in Fun-4-Kidz Program through Big Brothers and Big Sisters and he convinced her to let me play. Now look where I am at – in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.”

“It never really dawned on me the impact I could have as a college kid when Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami paired me with a quiet 12-year-old named Terrill through their Fun-4-Kidz program,” Bailey said. “Looking back, we really both helped each other because I think I was able to push him and help him realize his love for the game of football and instill a strong work ethic, and for me he really made me realize that I could inspire greatness if I strived to be great myself. I am so thankful for BBBSA for connecting Terrill and me and for all the great work they do with youth mentoring throughout the country.”

A decade later and Allen is in his with NFL season playing for the Atlanta Falcons with 112 games under his belt. The two reconnected during Terrill’s NFL Draft Process, ultimately leading to an in-person encounter during a preseason game. Allen would help Terrill realize his potential and make the NFL.

“Allen and Terrill’s story is a great example of what our mentoring program is all about. When volunteers sign up to become a Big, they may expect to stay matched, on average about two years. But that turns into 3, 5 years and in some cases 10 years. And they stay connected, long after the official mentoring program ends,” said Pam Iorio, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President and CEO. They become a part of one another’s lives, and it also shows that the mentoring relationship isn’t one-sided—the Bigs get as much out of it, if not more, than the Littles. We appreciate Allen and Terrill being great advocates of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Right now, there are 30,000 kids on a waiting list, asking for a Big—most are boys. Allen and Terrill both ended up in the NFL, but at the heart of it all, it’s about being a friend and a mentor, who can encourage and defend a child’s potential, no matter what their plans are for the future.”

Stories like the one shared between these two are what has occurred in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America since 1904. Terrill and Allen are one of many formed by the organization and show why the organization is an integral part of the Inspire Change movement.

“As one of our national Inspire Change grant recipients, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America continues to help create meaningful matches across the country with deserved youth and their bigs,” said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility. “Mentorship plays a huge role in educational and economic advancement and gives youth a big leg up to meet their full potential. It was amazing to see that a match between two current NFL players 10 years ago helped shape a young man’s career, embodying the essence of our partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.”