The National Football League today announced the launch of the NFL Foundation UK (registered charity number 1195395), with the aim of tackling inequality and lack of opportunities in society by supporting young people aged 12-20 to realise their potential, access positive pathways and take ownership of their futures.

The charity will provide grants, training, and equipment to local community organisations across the country that work directly with those most in need, in order to help create a level playing field and ensuring underrepresented young people have equal access to opportunities.

The NFL and the Greater London Authority have committed a combined £1 million to the NFL Foundation UK’s work in the capital city over a two-year period, from April 2022 to March 2024.

Brett Gosper, NFL Head of Europe and UK, said: “This is a very important development and further cements the NFL’s commitment to the UK. We have a chance to create opportunities for under-served young people and have already seen the impact our sport can make through successful pilot schemes and several years of operating NFL Flag programes. We hope this investment in stakeholders will play an important role in helping communities in their post-pandemic recovery. I am excited to see the work of the NFL Foundation UK flourish.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “American football is going from strength to strength in London and it was fantastic to see the NFL return to the capital on the weekend.

“We know young people have been hit hard by the pandemic. As our city roars back to life, I’m determined to do everything I can to open doors and give young Londoners the positive spaces and opportunities they deserve. That’s why I’ve invested a record £70m in positive activities for more than 110,000 disadvantaged young Londoners across the capital.

“This new joint £1m investment from City Hall and the NFL will use the power of sport and communities to bring young people – particularly women and girls and those from diverse backgrounds – together; helping them to develop new skills and working to empower them to be everything they want to be.”

The charity will operate independently to NFL UK and will be administered by a Board of Trustees, including Dawn Aponte, Anna Isaacson, Patricia Hamzahee, Leah Kreitzman, Gavin Lewis, Osi Umenyiora and Ian Ritchie, with one further appointment to be finalised (see biographies below).

“We aim to offer a different approach to creating positive outcomes for young people,” said double Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora. “We can leverage the NFL brand and the sport of American football to make an impact on those who’ve found that existing programmes don’t always work. We will do this by partnering with community organisations best placed to maximise the involvement of the NFL Foundation UK..”


The Foundation will follow a three-pronged strategic approach of:


  • Unite: Brining diverse young people together in environments that promote belonging
  • Upskill: Helping young people develop the skills and confidence to understand and achieve their potential
  • Advocate: Providing young people with pathways and platforms to take ownership of their futures


NFL Flag is proven to be strong engagement tool with diverse and under-served groups, in particular young girls and women, and all groups which are most likely to suffer from inequality. The NFL Foundation UK will provide funding and Flag training to local community charities that seek positive outcomes for young people around education, employment, community engagement and physical & mental wellbeing.

Successful programmes have been run with the BIGKID Foundation, an award-wining charity committed to supporting young people at risk of social exclusion and youth violence, and the HR Sports Academy, which is dedicated to building a brighter future for children and young people through the provision of and promotion of sport-related activities.

While the NFL Foundation UK will expand activities to nationwide projects, the initial NFL/GLA funding will be used to fund approximately 10 community organisations in London, focusing on mental health and wellbeing; the reduction of serious youth violence and youth unemployment; and character development.

There will also be a heavy focus on youth advocacy, through a Youth Summit that will bring together Foundation beneficiaries and senior leaders from business, politics and the voluntary sector.

“Everything we do will be co-created with, and reflective of, the communities we engage with,” said Umenyiora. “Young people, their futures and their voices, are central to the Foundation’s activities, and long-term sustainability and clear exit routes will be embedded into everything.”


The Foundation will also provide financial aid to students at the NFL Academy in north London for whom living and travel costs prove prohibitive to participation.


NFL Foundation UK Board of Trustees


Dawn Aponte: Dawn is the NFL’s Chief Football Administrative Officer, responsible for driving football operations. Previously she was with RSE Ventures and has worked for the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and the NFL Management Council during a 25-year career in football. She serves on USA Football’s Board of Directors, leading the sport’s development for youth, high school and other amateur players.


Patricia Keiko Hamzahee: After 20 years in investment banking and financial communications, Patricia now helps social enterprises attract private capital and advises private capital providers on responsible investment through her consultancy, Integriti Capital.  Among many interests, she is co-founder of Extend Ventures; co-founder of the Black Funding Network; a trustee of Ballet Black and Areté Network; and a director of the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival.


Anna Isaacson: Anna is the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, directing the league’s social, charitable and philanthropic efforts, including how the NFL addresses social justice, domestic violence, sexual assault and other critical societal issues. She also oversees the work of the NFL Foundation and has led the development of Inspire Change, a new social justice campaign focused on opening access to opportunity for communities.


Leah Kreitzman: Leah is a partner at Freuds Communications. Previously she was at the Greater London Authority, where she was Sadiq Khan’s Mayoral Director for External and International Affairs from 2016 until earlier this year. She is a former Director of Public Affairs for UNICEF UK and has led advocacy campaigns for Save the Children and ONE.


Gavin Lewis: Gavin is Managing Director at BlackRock, where he is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the UK Local Government Pension Scheme segment. He has held various financial leadership positions and is Co-Chair of the Global BlackRock Black Professionals Network and Sponsor of the EMEA Black Professionals Network. He is a member of the asset management industry’s Diversity Project and a trustee board member of the Old Vic Theatre Trust.


Osi Umenyiora: Osi is a two-time Super Bowl winner with the New York Giants. Since returning to London, where he was born, he has become a two-time Royal Television Society Award winner for his work on BBC TV’s The NFL Show. He is an ambassador for the NFL Academy in London, helped develop the league’s International Player Pathway programme and works with many good causes in Nigeria, from where his family originates.


Ian Ritchie OBE: Ian is one of the most respected administrators in UK sport, having served as chairman of Premier League Rugby, CEO of the Rugby Football Union for five years and CEO of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club for six years. He is a non-executive director of the Ryder Cup Committee, and was previously non-executive director of the Football League and a Wembley Stadium board member. Among his previous roles in media he was Chief Executive at Channel 5.


For more information about the NFL Foundation UK, visit



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