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Education / Funding / Philanthropy / STEM

Washington Redskins’ Josh Norman announces grant to fund innovation lab

The cornerback's $60,000 grant on behalf of the Players Coalition will fund the Digital Pioneers Academy lab, where students can learn coding and robotics.

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman speaks with students about the DPA's new innovation lab. (Courtesy Photo)

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman announced a $60,000 grant on behalf of the Players Coalition to fund the opening of an innovation lab last week at the Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA).

The Players Coalition is a collective of current and former National Football League players who advocate for social justice and racial equality via education and philanthropy. DPA, located in southeast D.C., is a computer science-focused middle school that serves students from Wards 7 and 8.

The addition of the DPA Innovation Lab aligns with the school’s mission to develop the next generation of active citizens and innovators in the digital economy. The Players Coalition’s education initiative also stresses access to equitable learning opportunities for youth in low-income communities.

“We’re trying to give them the resources they need so that they can get to the top,” Norman told Technical.ly. “I hope they use this grant to better their education, get to the next level and help others get there in turn. It’s all about helping people.”

This grant is one of several school-level investments the Players Coalition will be making over the next 12 months. Schools in Brooklyn, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Seattle will also be recipients as part of the group’s education initiatives.

“Developing the next generation of innovators requires both talent and resources,” said Mashea Ashton, DPA’s CEO and principal, in a statement. “Our hardworking scholars have plenty of talent, so we’re thrilled that the Players Coalition is connecting them with educational resources that will help them thrive in the 21st century economy.”

According to Ashton, the lab will include Arduino circuitry, which allows students to experiment with coding Internet of Things devices. It will also have virtual reality equipment, aiding instruction of cultural and historical lessons.

The lab features advanced robotics materials as well, creating a more collaborative environment and allowing students to experiment with new technology.

Norman, a task force member of the Players Coalition, is fervent about providing access to quality modern education in areas where educational opportunities are limited.

“I’ve been passionate about our Players Coalition education efforts and helping schools like Digital Pioneers because education is the most foundational way of building each other up,” Norman said. “If we want these kids to go out and help people in society, to be successful, positive role models, providing them with a quality education is the best thing we can do for them.”

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