ESPN named Arthur M. Blank the 2021 Sports Philanthropist of the Year as part of the production of the seventh annual Sports Humanitarian Awards last night in New York City. The show production took place at The Rooftop at Pier 17, in New York City, with a 90-minute television special scheduled for original airing on Saturday, July 24 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.
The Sports Humanitarian Awards is a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who are using sports to make a difference in their communities and throughout the world. The award highlighted the recent philanthropic work of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (AMBFF) and Blank’s Family of Businesses (BFOB) that includes: the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United; the nationwide PGA TOUR Superstore; Mercedes-Benz Stadium(MBS); and three ranches in Montana.
As an early signer of The Giving Pledge, Blank lives his “give back to others” core value by investing his resources, time and energy to help people live healthier, more productive lives. He meets this pledge primarily through The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and his diverse set of businesses. After 25 years and more than $800 million in giving, the Foundation has committed to significantly accelerating the impact of its philanthropy over the next 10+ years and looking for opportunities to address the growing crisis of disconnection in our nation.
In addition to the individual businesses’ philanthropic efforts, over the last year Blank and the Blank Family Foundation have committed more than $300 million in grants. This includes a $200 million grant to develop 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; 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 cause that is personal to Blank himself; a COVID-19 relief pledge of $5.4 million in Atlanta, Montana and abroad; a $50 million grant to Babson College, Blank’s alma mater, to establish the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership; a five-year, $17 million grant to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta, as part of The Center’s capital expansion to add 20,000 square feet to the existing footprint and transform its programming; and a $9.5 million grant from PGA TOUR Superstore and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation to First Tee, an organization dedicated to helping youth stay active and build character through golf. He also dedicated the proceeds from his recent released memoir, Good Company, to the National Center for Civil and Human rights in perpetuity.
Blank always envisioned Mercedes-Benz Stadium as community-serving center and in 2020 MBS served as an early voting site and then became home to the largest COVID-19 vaccination site in the southeast - administering 300,000 vaccines. The AMBFF and BFOB also continued their long-term commitment to racial justice and supporting democracy by investing in numerous grants to organizations that are focused on creating positive, systemic change.
“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,” said Arthur M. Blank. “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,” Blank continues. “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.”
Multiple sports leagues and/or governing bodies including MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, PGA TOUR, UFC, USTA and WWE were sponsors of this year’s Sports Humanitarian Awards and have nominated athletes, teams and corporations who are transforming lives and uplifting communities. The finalists and winners were determined by an independent selection committee.