Sixers, Devils owners pledge $20M in push for equality

Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand is ecstatic that team ownership, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, is pledging $20 million over the next five years to invest in the cities where its teams work and live in hopes of fighting for equality and against systemic racism.

HBSE, owners of the Sixers and NHL's New Jersey Devils, announced a companywide plan Monday to fight systemic racism. While taking suggestions from their players, the Sixers plan to use $10 million of that contribution for the NBA's announced foundation to "drive economic empowerment in Black communities."

"Looking at things from my perspective as a Black man in America, as an executive for HBSE, I really wanted to have action and more than just words. And that is what really excites me about this," Brand told The Undefeated. "They were not just allies. They were going to another level in terms of being part of actual change."

HBSE plans to help revitalize neighborhoods where its teams and fans are located, most notably in Philadelphia; Newark, New Jersey; and Camden, New Jersey, through partnerships with Black developers, local community groups and officials, as well as HBSE Real Estate's Community Advancement Program.

At least $2.5 million will be donated to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities. The 76ers and Devils also plan to give over $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses via HBSE's new Buy Black Partnership Program. HBSE has also committed $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation to support education, health and employment outcomes in Black communities.

HBSE also said it will support Black and minority executives in the sports and entertainment industries, with hopes of building a diverse and inclusive workplace through recruitment, partnerships and programs. For example, HBSE plans to hire a chief diversity and impact officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization. HBSE also plans to partner with historically Black colleges and universities to find job opportunities for Black college graduates.

Sixers players like Tobias Harris will play a role in where HBSE will choose to be active, Brand said.

Brand has also been active in the social justice movement, as he joined Sixers players Harris and Matisse Thybulle at a peaceful protest in Philadelphia.

"You need different thoughts to assure that you have the impact you want in the community," said Brand, a former NBA All-Star. "Our organization has become more diverse and inclusive. There is a reason our managing partners are speaking to the importance of this role. They know the difference of ideas and experiences only makes your company stronger and better."