CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dedication to Community (D2C), a national non-profit that educates and empowers communities on diversity, belonging and equity, announced a historic partnership with South Carolina State University to create and implement an extensive awareness and action strategy for all of SCSU’s 270 student-athletes, staff and coaches.
The Edwin R. Woodriffe Partnership, an interactive program scheduled to begin this summer, will include on-site training, and customized interactive sessions and speakers. D2C's growing college presence has included dozens of institutions of higher education, including Boston College, Harvard University, University of Maryland College Park, Seton Hall University, University of North Carolina Charlotte, St. John's University School of Law and other historically Black colleges and universities.
“These on-campus programs to educate and listen beautifully to student-athletes will be vital to the process of bringing communities together and developing life skills that will resonate well beyond the field of play,” said M. Quentin Williams, D2C founder and CEO. “SCSU is a key starting point for us, especially given our powerful bond with Pro Football Hall of Famer and S.C. State Trustee Donnie Shell. Mr. Shell believes in D2C's mission and we are excited about initiating our heightened focus on HBCU’s with the brilliant students, faculty and staff at SCSU.
“Additionally, the D2C family is honored to support the legacy of Agent Edwin R. Woodriffe, the only Black FBI Agent to be killed in the line of duty, as an integral part of this initiative,” Williams said.
S.C. State President James E. Clark said D2C’s commitment to diversity and social justice is in keeping with the university’s mission and ideals.
“The actions of Mr. Williams will make a difference for student-athletes across the nation,” Clark said, “and we are tremendously grateful that the SC State campus community will be on the forefront of this crucial endeavor.
“We also are indebted to Trustee Shell for his role in this partnership, which is just one example of his steadfast and comprehensive dedication to S.C. State and our student-athletes,” the S.C. State president said.
The Edwin R. Woodriffe Partnership model will contain four sessions for the fall and four sessions for the spring with all student-athletes, campus student leaders and coaches attending in the semester when they are not actively playing and training. The sessions will include training on cultural awareness and shifting perspectives related to social justice with an emphasis on empowerment through voting, interacting with law enforcement at traffic stops, the power of social media and D2C’s “Recipe for Reconciliation.”
The interactive discussions will embrace a reflection on the Derek Chauvin trial, the plight of people of color, including African American civilians, who have lost their lives during encounters with law enforcement and the real-life experiences of the attendees.
Additionally, there will be a transition program entitled, “When the Cheering Stops and Lights Go Out," to help prepare the students athletes for their inevitable move from college athletics to their life’s next chapter, encompassing self-identity and positive reinforcement in their post-athletic career.
D2C’s next step with HBCUs starting at SCSU is a natural fit given Shell’s work with both organizations. A graduate and member of the school’s board of trustees, Shell is also an executive advisor for D2C, a role that he embraced in the fall of 2020 and brings significant experience as a legendary athlete, professional mentor, and spiritual and civic leader.
A member of both the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame, Shell won four Super Bowl championships with the Pittsburgh Steelers among other highlights in his 14-year playing career. From 1994 to 2009, he directed player development for the Carolina Panthers, ensuring financial education, family assistance, internships and continuing education for players. After the NFL, Shell served as director of the Spiritual Life Center at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., where he focused on programs to inspire change while enriching the religious, spiritual and intellectual lives of students.
"It brings me great pleasure to see two organizations, my alma mater South Carolina State and Dedication to Community, commit to working together to do good,” Shell said. “There is a great need today to unite, listen, and learn from each other, and that's what SCSU and D2C are all about; cooperative relationships, progressive thought and helping us all move forward with the challenges we continue to face."
Shell established the Donnie Shell Scholarship Foundation, and along with the D2C Sports Division head Lamonte Winston, at one time was the namesake for the NFL’s Winston/Shell Award recognizing the League’s Most Outstanding Player Development Director/Program. In September 2020, D2C expanded its reach to involve professional, collegiate, and K-12 athletes, having Shell join Winston (former director of player engagement and Development, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders) to further expand the foundation's capabilities.
Shortly thereafter, Williams announced a historic partnership with the Miami HEAT and the City of Miami Police Department and, in February 2021, launched a partnership with veteran PGA TOUR golfer Kirk Triplett.
"It brings me great pleasure to see two organizations, my alma mater South Carolina State and Dedication to Community, commit to working together to do good. There is a great need today to unite, listen, and learn from each other, and that's what SCSU and D2C are all about."