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NFL and Cisco make $150,000 gift to Legal Aid and Cleveland Public Library

Posted April 28, 2021
12:15 pm

The National Football League (NFL) Foundation and Cisco, an Official Technology Partner of the NFL, are each donating $75,000, totaling $150,000 to The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (Legal Aid) and the Cleveland Public Library Foundation during the lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The donation will kick off the season-long Inspire Change Huddle Legacy Grant project as part of the NFL’s ongoing social justice work and commitment to addressing the digital divide. In addition, it’s another step toward fulfilling Cisco’s purpose to power an inclusive future, with equal access to technology.

The grant will go towards Legal Aid’s work to promote access to justice across the digital divide in collaboration with the Cleveland Public Library. This work has become even more urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, as reliable internet and familiarity with technology are now essential for so many day-to-day activities.

Specifically, the NFL Foundation and Cisco’s support will:

  • Grow a partnership between Legal Aid and Cleveland Public Library to create spaces for virtual legal meetings (such as sessions with attorneys and court hearings);
  • Expand Legal Aid’s new laptop lending initiative for families;
  • Support the Cleveland Library’s children’s services department with new technology.

“We’re proud to support The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library Foundation along with our partner Cisco as part of this year’s Draft in Cleveland,” said Alexia Gallagher, NFL Vice President of Philanthropy and Executive Director, NFL Foundation. “Giving families access to technology and digital resources are a necessity, now more than ever, and we look forward to seeing the lasting impact of these organization’s work in the Cleveland community”

This investment in Legal Aid and commitment to closing the digital divide is part of the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, which launched in 2018. Inspire Change supports programs that reduce barriers to opportunity for low-income communities with a focus on four areas: education; economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.

“We are grateful to the NFL Foundation for its generous support of Legal Aid’s new and innovative technology programs, which are addressing the urgent needs of our neighbors and community members,” says Colleen Cotter, Esq., Executive Director of Legal Aid. “By removing barriers to digital connectivity, we are promoting equal access to justice for all.”

“Cleveland Public Library is committed to closing the digital divide,” said Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library. “With the support of Legal Aid, the NFL Foundation, and Cisco, more people will have access to technology to connect to vital services. Our new video conference rooms will provide a safe, private space for families to receive legal help, conduct job interviews, attend telehealth appointments, and participate in Library-rich programming.” 


About Cleveland Public Library 
Founded in 1869, Cleveland Public Library serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at

City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, the Library lends nearly 6 million items a year to its 300,000 registered borrowers and to 45 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Public Library is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. For more information, visit

About Cleveland Public Library: Our Future is Building
In 2017, Cleveland residents passed a tax levy set to renew and increase support for Cleveland Public Library, setting into motion a project to dramatically transform our city’s libraries.  Over the next decade, Cleveland Public Library will renovate, expand, relocate, or rebuild all 27 neighborhood libraries. The project, known as the Facilities Master Plan, honors and preserves our past while preparing us to better handle the future needs of our community. Our goal is to improve neighborhood engagement and create spaces that enable our strategic priorities. The revitalization project marks the third major, system-wide capital project in our 151-year history. For more information visit

About Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Founded in 1905, Legal Aid is the 5th oldest civil legal aid organization in the United States and the only one in Northeast Ohio. Today, Legal Aid operates multiple offices and serves residents of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, and Geauga counties. With a staff of 64 attorneys and 44 administrative/support staff, Legal Aid also boasts a volunteer roster of more than 3,000 attorneys –

600 of whom are engaged in a case or clinic each year. Values of fairness and equity guide Legal Aid’s work to ensure justice is for all. In the United States, criminal and civil cases are handled differently by the judicial system; the Miranda rights you hear so often on television crime shows (“you have the right to an attorney…”) only apply to criminal cases. That means in most cases about housing, debt, education rights, public benefits, or other civil matters involving basic human needs, people who cannot afford an attorney are on their own. This is why civil legal aid is important: Legal Aid provides high-quality legal representation to people who have low incomes and face problems impacting basic needs. Legal Aid also empowers people with the knowledge and resources to handle certain issues on their own and works towards broad-based solutions to dismantle structural inequities, systemic racism, and other barriers to opportunity.

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