DAVIE—Dolphins safety Michael Thomas threw himself to the forefront of a national controversy, one that grew to the point that it preoccupied the White House, and it has been worth it. While there is more he hopes to accomplish, he is celebrating the victory of sending one South Florida kid to college on full scholarship thanks to a new partnership with owner Stephen Ross.
Ross has often shown an interest in this type of work, but it’s likely this never would have come about if Thomas and other players around the NFL—including Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Arian Foster and Jelani Jenkins from the Dolphins—hadn’t made their statement by kneeling during the national anthem before games.
“I’d definitely say something positive came up out of it,” Thomas said. “He’s had a great heart from the jump. It should be contagious. If they see what we’re doing here, other teams can do it. And not just NFL. Other sporting teams, maybe other businesses, can see what’s been done here and they can take it.
“It’s not that complicated. They can copy and paste it in their business or their league. There’s a lot of work still to be done, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
The endeavor with Ross, titled the Project Change Scholarship, begins Dec. 1 and choose one Miami area high school student per year to receive fully paid tuition for four years of college.
Thomas will be on the selection committee, which requires students to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and 40 or more hours of community service per semester in social justice programs. Applicants also must submit an essay explaining what kind of change they want to see in their community and how the scholarship will help them achieve it.
The goal for Thomas is to sponsor kids who will return to South Florida as leaders after they graduate.
“We’re trying to make improvements in our community and see real change,” Thomas said. “One of the things I’ve been harping on for a while is trying to get some type of academic scholarship for the underprivileged youth here in Miami. That’s something the Dolphins could definitely do.
“It’s not just a one-year thing, but every single year moving forward we’d like to send at least one kid to college for free—absolutely free—and track them and have it where they actually come back and give back to the Miami community… Having that type of change and that type of impact in the community and knowing it came from the players taking their stance, that’s going to be something huge moving forward.”
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