September 8, 2016; Washington Post

TheSan Francisco 49ers could have been responded to Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision to not stand during the national anthem during football games in any number of ways, but few fans probably anticipated that 49ers CEO Jed York would announce two gifts totaling a million dollars to address racial inequities.

The organization had already released a statement, saying “the national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony” and that they “recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not.” But the donation does take the team’s position past mere support of free speech and into an acknowledgment of the issues to which Kaepernick is pointing.

“Whether or not I agree with his form of protest, you can’t argue the facts of the divide you see in this country,” York told Jim Trotter of ESPN.

The money, to be donated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation, is aimed at “improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.”

“We have chosen to work with these two organizations because they have proven track records of effecting change in the face of challenging problems,” York continued, saying they have the collective reach to make an impact.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation is the largest community foundation in the world, managing $7.3 billion in assets and more than 1,800 philanthropic funds globally. The San Francisco Foundation has served the people of the Bay Area since 1948, almost as long as the 49ers franchise. We are excited to work with these two renowned foundations over the coming months to develop a giving plan to help our community find unifying solutions to these pressing issues.

—Ruth McCambridge