Malcolm Jenkins’ last trip to New Orleans was in the aftermath of violence.
He stood at a podium to deliver a tribute for Will Smith at the funeral of his former New Orleans Saints teammate, Ohio State brother and good friend. It was moving. It was heartfelt. It was somber.
The tragic ending is one more reason why Jenkins hasn’t surrendered on his mission for The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation in New Orleans.”Violence and crime happen every single day (in New Orleans),” Jenkins told me earlier this week. “Sometimes it takes those highly visible figures or something to make some realize what’s happening every single day. It’s really affecting our youth. It’s not just adults dealing with this. It’s our teenagers. “A lot of it is because they don’t know they have other options. They’ve never seen any other options or any other ways to do things.”
Jenkins started the charity in 2010 while with the Saints to help supply New Orleans’ youth with an avenue away from potential crime and violence. He wanted a route for those who wouldn’t have dreamed about college to receive the necessary skills to make it there.
Jenkins will give another speech in New Orleans at Dillard on Thursday evening. This one will be more about hope and triumph. This one will be a victory speech over crime and violence.
Through the foundation’s Project REWARDS program and in collaboration with College Track New Orleans, Jenkins will award a round of scholarships for the fifth consecutive year to a selection of graduating seniors. It’s the third round of scholarships doled out since Jenkins signed with Philadelphia in 2014.
“Obviously when I left New Orleans, I wanted to make sure everything stayed in tact,” Jenkins said. “I don’t see that changing. We started in New Orleans because we saw that there was a need. Just because I leave doesn’t mean that the need leaves. So it’s important for us to stay in the community and continue to help.
“It’s a city that I love and that’s supported me. I just try to do my part to give back.”
Someone like Troy Simon is exactly why Jenkins continues his efforts in earnest.
Simon also will be a keynote speaker with Jenkins at Thursday’s event. Simon was a member of the first group to receive a scholarship in 2012.
Simon himself sometimes wonders how he’s advanced this far.
He didn’t learn to read until he was an early teenager. As First Lady Michelle Obama described, Simon “would regularly cut school because the other students would tease him. When he did attend, he’d shove desks, start fights — anything to get him out of class.” Simon didn’t want others knowing he couldn’t read.
Why does the First Lady know Simon’s story? Read full article>>>