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$20M Harris Blitzer social equality pledge unveiled

With a total pledge of $20 million, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) is unveiling a company-wide action plan to fight systemic racism and champion equality, centered on the cities hosting its flagship sports and entertainment properties, including the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and the New Jersey Devils (NHL).

First, HBSE is pledging $10 million from the 76ers to the NBA’s newly announced foundation to drive economic empowerment in Black communities. The rest will be divided among both new and existing HBSE initiatives, including a community development program and a diversity procurement program. (We’ll list each below.) Besides the two sports teams, HBSE also manages Newark’s Prudential Center and a host of other sports/eSports teams and venues across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

“As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be,” said Josh Harris, HBSE Founder via press statement. “While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality. We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with Black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support. We are deeply committed to fighting for a better, more inclusive future and we pledge to be leaders in doing so.”

“It is crucial for us to take action in fighting against systemic racism and social injustices, which have persisted for far too long,” added HBSE Co-Founder David Blitzer echoed. “Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work and play. We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve and our country as a whole.”

Here’s a rundown of each charitable initiative:

Investing in Black Communities: Through partnerships with Black developers, local community groups and officials, HBSE Real Estate’s Community Advancement Program will advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through significant investments, including:

  • A minimum of $2.5 million to be donated to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities (e.g., employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents, public space improvements, youth programming); and 
  • Capital commitments into real estate projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods, such as affordable housing, health centers and commercial corridor improvements, among others.

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses and Entrepreneurs: HBSE will launch new initiatives to support Black-owned businesses with competitive opportunities and marketing resources.

  • The 76ers and Devils will contribute more than $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses via HBSE’s new Buy Black Partnership Program
  • HBSE will increase expenditure with Black-owned businesses through our new Diversity Procurement Program, which will include partnerships with organizations such as the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ and DE.
Josh and Marjorie Harris at After School All Stars Community Event.

Promoting Education, Health, and Employment: HBSE will commit $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation, continuing to work through their Corporate Responsibility programs to support positive education, health and employment outcomes in Black communities. This commitment builds upon efforts made by HBSE to promote racial equity in Newark, Camden and Philadelphia, including the following upcoming and recent efforts: 

  • The Philadelphia 76ers pledge to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 School District of Philadelphia families; and
  • The recent endowment of separate donations made to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County, inspired by Devils Defenseman P.K. Subban’s $50,000 donation to the GoFundMe campaign dedicated to Gionna Floyd, the six-year-old daughter of the late George Floyd. Subban’s donation was matched by the NHL. (That’s Subhan at the photo at the top of the page.)
David Blitzer snd Philadelphia students.

Amplifying a Workplace of Respect, Inclusion and Diversity: Internally, HBSE will support Black and minority executives entering and ascending in the sports and entertainment industry while fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace through recruitment, dynamic partnerships and programs that provide support and enrichment opportunities for all employees and athletes. To accomplish these goals, HBSE will:

  • Hire a Chief Diversity and Impact Officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization;
  • Strengthen HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group with support groups, workshops and a speaker series to foster continued race-based education, empathy and mindfulness within our organizational culture;
  • Focus on new recruitment, retention and career advancement programs to increase the representation of Black and minority employees across HBSE; and 
  • Partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines and exposure at HBSE.

Besides the three NBA/NHL properties, HBSE also owns and operstes the Delaware Blue Coats (G-League), the Binghamton Devils (AHL), the GRAMMY Museum Experience at the Prudential Center, the mixed-use 76ers Training Complex in Camden, NJ, an NBA 2K League Team (76ers Gaming Club) and New Meta Entertainment, a digital sports and entertainment company that includes esports organization Dignitas.

Photos courtesy Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.

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