Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA celebrates one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Washington Redskins offensive tackle Morgan Moses who is launching a foundation to help students focus on their education.
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses typically educates defenses on the field, but on December 8, he focused on giving real-life lessons to a special group of local high schoolers.
Moses, a 2014 draft pick by the Washington Redskins, hosted a competition at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Virginia where teams from marketing classes and DECA programs at Marshall and Lake Braddock High School presented community engagement plans for his soon-to-be launched foundation.
“I came into Tuesday’s event thinking that these high school students would bring to the table ideas that were far-fetched and perhaps unrealistic, but I was blown away by their presentations,” Moses said. “These students surprised me from the moment they walked into the room, dressed in suits, to the innovative programs that were presented.”
The first-ever Pride & Passion Competition Cup is part of his ongoing interest in finding unique ways to promote education, especially at the high-school level.
“The in-depth detail of marketing and engagement strategies was evident, right down to the S.W.O.T. analysis to show every angle of their pitches,” Morgan said, beaming. “It was amazing to see how some of the things our board members and I have been brainstorming about could really come to life – they touched every single one of those ideas.”
Moses sat on an all-star panel to judge the students’ proposals. Joining him was his mother, his business manager, his foundation’s executive director, Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan, Tyhler Raye Lynch, Vice President of Communications at Discovery Education, and Mike Smith, CEO of GreenSmith Public Affairs.
“Morgan has gotten a lot of attention for flourishing on the field this season, but I think the strides he made with his new foundation are equally as important to him,” Paulsen said. “He is a first-class, family-oriented person who cares deeply about inspiring young people to take pride in their school work. I can tell that his struggles as a student have motivated him to inspire young students who want to better themselves.”
Motivating Others through Education
The Morgan Moses Foundation, which will officially launch in early 2016, is based on the idea of Motivating Others through Education, or MOE, a play off of the Virginia native’s long-time nickname.
“It is always inspiring to see athletes giving back to their community, but Morgan elevates it to another level,” Raye said. “His passion for motivating students and evangelizing the critical importance of education resonates through everything he does, both on and off the field. He doesn’t take his status as a role model lightly, but rather proactively works to positively impact the lives of students. Morgan has seen the significant impact of education in his own life, and has made it his mission to motivate kids to get the best education possible.”
The foundation’s mission is to engage students of all ages in exciting and interactive educational activities and equip them with the tools needed to promote academic and personal development and instill winning attitudes, Moses said.
“I want to inspire these kids with my story and everything that I’ve overcome and really connect with and help them realize that they can achieve the unthinkable if they take the time and put in the work,” he explained.
In 2009, Moses -- a two-time all-state, all-region and all-district selection at Meadowbrook High School in North Chesterfield, Virginia -- accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Virginia, only to find himself academically ineligible when it came time to enroll.
The highly touted recruit instead spent a prep year at Fort Union Military Academy, embracing a structured environment of study hall, testing and other exercises to improve his grade-point average.
Moses enrolled at UVA in 2010, and became just the third true freshman to start at an offensive tackle position for the Cavaliers. Perhaps more importantly, he was the team’s recipient of the Z Society Bill Dudley Award, presented to first-year player for excellence in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
“Morgan uses his personal narrative to help high school students understand the importance of time management and focus on studies,” said Smith, who also sits on the Fairfax County Public Schools Advisory Board. “This competition gave DECA teams the chance to put their skills to the test and pitch Moses and the foundation team much like ‘Shark Tank.’”
‘It all starts with our youth’
Giving Virginia students the opportunity to put classroom skills to a practical use was important to Moses.
“As we launch this foundation, we wanted to build-off of our founding principles and do something different to connect with local youth – not just to hear their unique perspectives, but to really collaborate with the next generation of marketing executives,” said the 24-year-old offensive tackle. “It all starts with our youth!”
While all participants had the chance to interact with and get feedback from Moses and the other panelists, the competition’s winners were treated to autographed gifts and bragging rights. The winning team from Marshall took home a Pride & Passion Award plaque to be displayed at the school.
“The students were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a top professional athlete and agreed they felt even more passion to pursue their marketing careers as a result of this experience,” Smith said. “Fairfax County has one million residents of all socioeconomic and multicultural backgrounds so for Moses to spend hours with high school marketing students shows he is personally invested in their education.”
Changing the community
While his primary off-the-field focus this season has been launching his foundation, Moses has also donated a variety of game-worn items to troops abroad and tickets to veterans in the U.S. to thank them for their service. On November 9, Moses made a special trip to McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond. He spent hours speaking with patients and encouraging them on their road to recovery.
Through his foundation and other opportunities, Moses said he has big plans to change the Virginia community that has supported him from his youth, through college, and now professionally.
“In the short term, we would like to launch regional book drives and host readings at schools and libraries,” Moses said. “Down the road, we would also like to expand the Morgan Moses Foundation and partner with educational groups to renovate and build new libraries through Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.”
2015 NFLPA Community MVPs:
Week 1: Sam Barrington (Green Bay Packers)
Week 2: Justin Tuck (Oakland Raiders)
Week 3: Matt Forté (Chicago Bears)
Week 4: Cliff Avril (Seattle Seahawks)
Week 5: Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts)
Week 6: William Hayes (St. Louis Rams)
Week 7: Michael Thomas (Miami Dolphins)
Week 8: Jacob Tamme (Atlanta Falcons)
Week 9: Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles)
Week 10: Don Carey III (Detroit Lions)
Week 11: Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills)
Week 12: Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)
Week 13: Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)