When Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey and Cam Heyward met with Steelers President Art Rooney II over a year ago about making a difference in the community through the Steelers' Social Justice Grant program, one of the things Foster wanted to make sure was not only was the Pittsburgh community impacted, but also players would have the opportunity to impact the communities they are from.
Foster put his own plan into action when he and the team combined to give a $10,000 grant to the P.I.C.K (Positive Inner City Kids) Foundation based out of Nashville, Tennessee, Foster's home state, through the Social Justice Grant program.
The foundation was founded by Calvin Bryant, who overcame mistakes in his life and wants to make sure young people in Nashville don't follow the path he took.
"I was glad I was able to select an organization like P.I.C.K. for the donation," said Foster. "Right now, Nashville is having an influx of crime among young kids. It's awesome a guy in Calvin's position can impact kids before they go down that bad road. I am a huge proponent of that. There is always a point in all of our young teenage lives where we go right, or we go left. Sometimes it's because of circumstances and nobody telling us right from wrong. Having a guy like Calvin who has gone through what he has gone through be able to tell kids you don't have to do this is huge. That is why I am supporting him and his movement."
Foster, who played against Bryant in high school, learned more about him through his brother, Ron. While at Tennessee State, Bryant was arrested for a first-time drug offense and convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison. While incarcerated he started P.I.C.K. to focus on saving at-risk youth from finding trouble and choosing the wrong path. Bryant was released after serving 10 years and is now focused on helping others.
"He went one way and I went another way and that is unfortunate that he has legal issues," said Foster. "As a first-time offender he got 17 years. That was something that was excessive. He had a team of people that fought for him to get released early for a first timer. Hearing about his story, my brother Ron knowing him, I thought let me check this guy out, let me link back up with him. He has been everything you want a guy in his position to be and more. It's been cool to talk with him continuously. He didn't even know about this until I presented it to him.
"When we did the social justice fund, that is one of the things I brought up to Mr. Rooney. A lot of guys want to do things in the City of Pittsburgh, but I also thought it would be nice if we could designate some of the funds to where we live in the offseason. He was on board for it. That is the best thing. You have a chance to directly see the reaction. Charlie Batch reached out to me and thanked me for the donation he got with what he is doing around the City of Pittsburgh. It's not just one city, its guys making an impact in multiple states and cities where it is needed. I am a huge supporter of all of it. I think it's a really good thing."
He isn't the only one who thinks it's a really good thing. Bryant is deeply touched by it and is now an official member of Steelers Nation.
"It's amazing. It means so much that he reached back and helped us," said Bryant. "A lot of times we are in positions like this we don't get this kind of help. I feel definitely blessed. It shows the kids that regardless of your address and where you grew up there are people rooting for you, wanting you to do the right thing, even professional athletes.
"And for the Steelers to donate as well, that is so surprising and touching. I have a lot of love for the Pittsburgh Steelers for helping us out and doing something that can have a life-changing effect on these kids. I am definitely part of Steelers Nation.
"All I want to do is help these kids. It's so important to me. I grew up in the inner city of Nashville. This gives an opportunity to show people care. Once the kids know what is going on and their success depends on how hard they work, not just the decisions they make, it shows people care and want to give them the right push."