ESPN names Atlanta Falcons Owner As 2021 Sports Philanthropist of the Year
Arthur M. Blank, an early signer of The Giving Pledge, lives by his "give back to others" core value. Over the last 25 years, his family foundation has given away $800 million.
ESPN named Blank, the owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and MLS' Atlanta United, as 2021 Sports Philanthropist of the Year at the seventh annual Sports Humanitarian Awards in New York City Monday night.
The award celebrates those in the sports world who have a positive impact in their communities and throughout the world. The 90-minute show will air at 2 p.m. ET July 24 on ABC.
The show highlighted the recent philanthropic efforts of the The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Blank's Family of Businesses, which includes the Falcons, the United, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, nationwide PGA TOUR Superstore and three ranches in Montana. Blank also co-founded The Home Depot in 1978.
In the the last year or so, Blank and his foundation committed more than $300 million to grants, including $200 million of which will go to the development of the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Arthur M. Blank Hospital—the largest donation in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta history and the single largest naming gift to a freestanding pediatric hospital. Other gifts include:
- a $50 million grant to Blank’s alma mater — Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts — to establish the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership
- a $17 million grant distributed over five years to Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights as part of its capital expansion to add 20,000 square feet to the existing footprint and transform its programming
- a $20 million legacy grant to establish the Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research at The University of Texas at Austin
- a $9.5 million grant — in collaboration with the PGA TOUR Superstore — to First Tee, an organization dedicated to helping youth stay active and build character through golf
- a $5.4 million COVID-19 relief pledge in Atlanta, Montana and abroad
- proceeds from his recent memoir, “Good Company” to Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights in perpetuity
In addition, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which Blank sees as a community-serving center, served as an early voting site in 2020 and then the largest COVID-19 vaccination site in the southeast—administering 300,000 vaccines while both his foundation and businesses have made a long-term commitment to support racial justice and democracy by investing in numerous grants to organizations that are focused on creating positive, systemic change. And, over the next 10 years, the foundation plans to significantly accelerate the impact of its work and help to address the country’s disconnection.
"This is a tremendous honor, but it's one that belongs to my dear family and our associates with the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, our ranches in Montana and our Family Foundation," Blank said in a statement. "When we simplify what it means to give back, it's neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends, that is humanitarian work in its purest and, perhaps, most powerful form. May we all continue to look for ways to lift others, and to heal the world in whatever way we can so that all may rise."