Sports teams and their hometowns are inextricably woven together, and sports towns expect their teams to be active in the community.
Sometimes fans ask us, "What do you do in the community?"
Between direct Bengals corporate contributions, NFL Charities and other efforts in concert with our business partners, the Bengals generate more than $1 million each year for community groups.
First, in terms of direct financial giving, the Bengals have donated more than $2.5 million to charity over the past five years. In terms of "how" the Club operates its philanthropy, the answer is that the Club has chosen to quietly "cast a broad net" and has chosen to support the many great charities already doing great work in Cincinnati.
Rather than create a new charitable entity, the Bengals have chosen to fit into the existing fabric of the area.
"That's just the way it grew over the years," said Bengals president Mike Brown. "We believe it's a good way. We have chosen not to create another level of infrastructure, running funds through a team-controlled third party, but rather to steer those funds directly to agencies we trust to do a great job."
United Way heads the list above for good reason.
"The Bengals have been strong partners with United Way of Greater Cincinnati for many years," said Rob Reifsnyder, the organization’s president. "This is through initiatives that come as a result of the decades-old NFL-United Way national partnership, and also through the team's financial support, with efforts such as the sports team license plates that the Bengals initiated. We are very appreciative of the Bengals' support."
In the case of the highly successful Marvin Lewis Community Fund, team personnel work extensively with MLCF staff, and the team contributes vital resources in both cash contributions and facility use.
"Without the support of Bengals ownership, we simply could not do all the things we do," Lewis said. "We launched the MLCF with assurance from the team that it was 'all-in' with our mission, and the results have been all that we had hoped for and more. Our staff and the Bengals staff have made a great team, a winning team for the community."
Since its inception in 2003, the MLCF has donated more than $6 million to various causes and touched the lives of more than 400,000 individuals. The MLCF invests 93 percent of every dollar back into the community.
The Bengals participate in the NFL's youth field development program and have donated more than $1.4 million to local high schools for football fields – you may have seen them at Oak Hills, Western Hills, Holy Cross, Withrow, Lockland, Midway and Clinton-Massie.
In partnership with our concessionaire, Aramark, we have developed a program where local charities can work home games – and in exchange, local charities receive over $500,000 annually in donations to use with their missions.
The Bengals also partner with key local not-for-profits to generate tremendous support for those organizations by hosting and sponsoring events, such as:
» The "Taste of the NFL" program in partnership with the Freestore Foodbank raises more than $100,000 annually and provided over 400,000 meals in the area last year. For the last 15 years, the Bengals have worked with the Freestore Foodbank to collect canned goods every fall -- thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars are contributed annually through this effort.
"The Bengals are one of our largest partners," said Kurt Reiber, president of the Freestore Foodbank, "and the team's support allows us to reach a great spectrum of potential donors we otherwise would not reach. We always have a great response from the Bengals and their fans. Our Taste of the NFL event is one of our the largest single-day fundraisers."
» The Bengals partner with the Hoxworth Blood Center and host one of the area's largest and most successful blood drives every year at Paul Brown Stadium
» For many years, the Bengals have sponsored and hosted the Queen City Chess Tournament at Paul Brown Stadium to support inner city outreach efforts in partnership with ProScan and the Cris Collinsworth Foundation.
» The Bengals were a prime mover in developing Ohio's team-branded license plate program, working with state officials. Through this program the Bengals have directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in new funding to United Way and the Greater Cincinnati Sports Commission.
» At home games, the Bengals create a platform for fans to support the Salvation Army – into which the Bengals donate thousands each year
» For the past 15 years, the Bengals have partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves for the "Toys for Tots" program, and over the years this program has raised more than $230,000 and delivered more than 38,000 toys to needy kids.
Beyond all that the team and Coach Lewis does, there are substantial efforts undertaken by our players, assistant coaches, and alumni to give back to the community.
These range from the long-established Anthony Muñoz Foundation to the recently formed Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation. Another stalwart in community work is Doug Pelfrey's Kicks for Kids.
Foundations have also been established by a number of other current players. The list includes Leon Hall, Thomas Howard, Michael Johnson, Terence Newman, Domata Peko, Pat Sims, Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth. These player efforts provide meaningful help to many areas of need in our community.
The Bengals participate in Hometown Huddle, an NFL/United Way program under which teams select a day each year for hands-on work with a community improvement project. Last year, Bengals players, coaches and staff contributed time and effort toward an extensive renewal of Veterans Park, in the Cincinnati suburb of North College Hill.
Also, the team's player relations department coordinates visits by players year-round to schools, hospitals and other community sites. The team has averaged 250-300 individual player appearances per year.
The list of charities touched by the Bengals is many, and it would be hard for fans not have their lives touched by an organization supported by the Bengals.
The truth is that the Bengals support more than 100 charities every year, and every level of the organization—from players to owners to coaches to staff—supports many great causes around town that mean so much to the community. We invite you to call our friends at any of the above organizations and to get involved yourself.