Life as a professional athlete can be transitory, a blur of different uniforms, cities and faces, which makes it difficult to get attached to any particular place. But Philadelphia Eagles free safety and former Buckeyes football star Malcolm Jenkins manages to make real, lasting connections no matter where he goes.
That’s due in large part to the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, which he started with his mother, Gwendolyn, to give back and help youth in communities he’s been part of throughout his life. The organization sponsors scholarships and hosts events in Piscataway, N.J., Columbus, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Jenkins is quick to emphasize his personal, hands-on involvement in the foundation. “We didn’t want to just throw money at a problem, because that usually doesn’t fix things,” Jenkins said, “especially when you’re talking about impacting our youth in different communities. I can’t have a long-lasting impact on a person or community if I’m never present in that community or in front of those people.” A first-round selection of the New Orleans Saints in 2009, Jenkins received the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football and was named a consensus All-American as a senior at Ohio State. He went on to earn All-Pro Second Team honors in 2010 and win a Super Bowl with the Saints before signing with the Eagles in 2014.
“Malcolm was doing a lot of community service work when he was in Ohio at school, and then he continued that work when he got to New Orleans,” his mother said. “I thought he could make a bigger difference and have a longer reach if he took those efforts and focused them in a way where he could get support to do more.”