As part of the club's ongoing efforts to Inspire Change in Chiefs Kingdom, the Kansas City Chiefs, along with players and community partners, have launched the second year of "Kingdom United" – the club's youth-focused diversity and inclusion initiative.
The Kingdom United program is in 12 elementary schools in 2021 after launching in five pilot elementary schools in 2020 and aims to promote unity among students throughout Chiefs Kingdom and beyond by providing strategic educational books and multi-media resources to teach the next generation about race, diversity, inclusion and acceptance.
"The Chiefs are committed to uniting the community, and the goal of Kingdom United is to help young people appreciate those around them and embrace the diversity that exists in our country," Chiefs Team Clinician Dr. Shaun Tyrance said. "Through this initiative, elementary school students get the opportunity to have meaningful discussions about equity and inclusion, as well as learn the power of kindness and compassion. Kingdom United has the potential to have a long-term impact on the greater Kansas City area and beyond."
After a successful inaugural year of the program, T-Mobile has joined the Chiefs as the presenting partner of the Kingdom United program, offering support and resources to grow the positive impact the program has on elementary students throughout Chiefs Kingdom. In addition, two active Chiefs players – DE Alex Okafor and CB Charvarius Ward – have elected to sponsor Kingdom United at their own elementary schools. This is the second year Okafor has sponsored the program at Spring Hill Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas, and this marks the first year that Ward has adopted the program for Otken Elementary in McComb, Mississippi.
"After an abundance of positive feedback in its first year, I felt it was necessary to bring back the Kingdom United reading program for another year [at Spring Hill Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas]," Okafor said. "Social justice isn't an issue that we attack when it's convenient or fresh on our mind. We have to consistently be mindful of these issues if we want to make real change."
"McComb, Mississippi, and Otken Elementary played a major role in helping me get to where I am today," Ward said. "And I think Kingdom United gives me a great opportunity to give back to the community and help educate young people on the importance of valuing and accepting others."
The 2021 roster of Kingdom United school includes:
- *Whittier Elementary in Kansas City, Missouri, a City Year Kansas City school
- *University Academy in Kansas City, Missouri
- Eastwood Hills Elementary in Kansas City, Missouri
- Ervin Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri
- John Fiske Elementary in Kansas City, Kansas
- *Wolf Springs Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas
- Pleasant Ridge Elementary in Easton, Kansas
- *Hillcrest Elementary in Lawrence, Kansas
- Spring Hill Elementary in Spring Hill, Kansas
- Royal Valley Elementary in Hoyt, Kansas
- *Spring Hill Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas, adopted by Chiefs DE and former student Alex Okafor
- Otken Elementary in McComb, Mississippi, adopted by Chiefs CB and former student Charvarius Ward
*Denotes a school returning to the Kingdom United program
Schools participating in the Kingdom United program are encouraged to dedicate at least 30 minutes per month to teaching their students about race, diversity, inclusion and acceptance. Each elementary school will receive complimentary, grade-level appropriate, diversity-themed books for each student, and the teachers will be provided with discussion questions and activities that can be utilized to reinforce the messages and themes in the books. Every grade level will have four unique books that will be taught during the school year, with the books specifically selected to help students appreciate the uniqueness of all people.
On a specific Red Friday each month, participating schools will hold a "book of the month" kickoff event to introduce each grade level to their new book. These monthly sessions will include virtual readings from special guests, including Chiefs players.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a longstanding tradition of supporting the academic attainment and empowerment of students across Kansas City. This year, through the Kingdom United program, the Chiefs and the Hunt Family Foundation will continue to deepen this impact on the lives of students who face barriers to opportunity. Through key community partnerships and programs, students will receive academic support in the classroom and tools to learn about race, inclusion and acceptance.
For more information on the Kingdom United program, including a form for interested schools to inquire about participating in the program, please visit www.chiefs.com/inspirechange/kingdomunited/. Additional information about all of the club's Inspire Change efforts is available at www.chiefs.com/inspirechange/ and information about the NFL's Inspire Change initiatives is available at https://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/economic-social-impact/inspire-change/.