NFL Players and Former Juvenile Offenders Team Up for Super Bowl Pop-Up Dinner

Café Momentum — an award-winning nonprofit restaurant that provides 12-month paid internships and life-changing support to young people exiting the juvenile justice system — teamed up with the Players Coalition, a nonprofit founded by NFL players Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins.

The restaurant is dedicated to making an impact on social justice and racial inequality, along with Stand Together Foundationa philanthropic organization committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in America by driving change from within communities, to bring its innovative model to the Super Bowl.

The invite-only pop-up dinner and black-carpet event downtown at Rossoblu brought together athletes, including NFL Legend, Players Coalition Member and Stand Together Ambassador Shaun Alexander; Players Coalition Task Force Member and New Orleans Saints Linebacker Demario Davis; criminal justice reform advocates Alice Marie Johnson and Michael “Harry O” Harris; local lawmakers; and community partners to enjoy a three-course meal prepared and served by L.A. justice system-involved youth. Café Momentum partnered with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), which works to end mass incarceration in California and to empower formerly and currently incarcerated people to thrive, to give these local youth the opportunity to experience the transformative Café Momentum model.

(Image: Café Momentum Super Bowl Pop-Up Dinner)

Throughout the evening — emceed by former NFL linebacker and Stand Together Ambassador Dhani Jone — guests witnessed how the right care and support can empower justice-involved youth to become contributing members of society. Shaun Alexander delivered remarks along with Momentum Ambassadors, and leaders from Café Momentum and Stand Together Foundation, according to a press release.

Momentum Advisory Collective (M.A.C.) — the parent company driving Café Momentum’s national expansion with support from Stand Together Foundation — saw the Super Bowl as an exciting stage to build community support for opening a Café Momentum restaurant in Los Angeles by 2024.

“These young people should not be defined by their worst mistakes. We’re committed to providing them with support and opportunities to realize their full potential,” said Chad Houser, founder and CEO of Café Momentum and M.A.C.

“In supporting Café Momentum here at the Super Bowl, professional athletes are helping us show these youth that they matter. With committed partners like the Players Coalition and Stand Together Foundation, we are transforming lives and the way we think about juvenile justice in our country.”

(Image: Café Momentum Super Bowl Pop-Up Dinner)

This dinner is the latest collaboration between Café Momentum, Players Coalition, and Stand Together Foundation. The partners have hosted previous events with NFL athletes, including a pop-up dinner in Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

“Café Momentum shows what is possible when you put the right system of support around young people who have made mistakes early in life and believe in their potential,” said NFL Legend, Stand Together Ambassador, and Players Coalition Member Shaun Alexander.

“The NFL Family and Players Coalition have also embraced this transformational organization and we thank the Stand Together Foundation for how they are helping Café Momentum expand their important work across the country.”

“Players Coalition is proud to partner with Café Momentum and like-minded organizations to bring out the best in youth exiting the youth justice system,” said New Orleans Saints Linebacker and Players Coalition Task Force Member, Demario Davis.

“The future of these young men and women is important. They deserve equal access to opportunities that help them reach their full potential and by working hand-in-hand with the NFL to Inspire Change, Café Momentum, and Stand Together, we all hope to engage a conversation around youth justice and the potential for programs like these to transform young lives.”

“Stand Together is excited to be back at the Super Bowl with Players Coalition, NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, Café Momentum, and Momentum Advisory Collective. Once you experience Café Momentum and see what the young men and women coming out of juvenile detention are capable of, you can’t help but see how broken the current system is,” said Brian Hooks, CEO of Stand Together.

“They’re showing that rather than give up on people who’ve made mistakes, we can help empower them to contribute. And that’s the kind of idea that can transform the juvenile justice system to one that helps unleash the potential of hundreds of thousands of kids each year.”

“I’m always inspired by the incredible work that Stand Together Foundation does, including its support of Café Momentum,” said CEO of Taking Action for Good (TAG), criminal justice reform advocate, and Stand Together Ambassador, Alice Marie Johnson.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders and the young people at Café Momentum are building a brighter future not just for themselves, but for our nation. I’m hopeful about the days to come and all that these young men and women can achieve.”

“My experience working at Café Momentum’s pop-up dinner with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 changed my life. Being back here in L.A., my home, as a Momentum Ambassador with Players Coalition and Stand Together Foundation is a full-circle moment for me,” said Momentum Ambassador, Kenzo Sohoue. 

I’m excited to help support and inspire the young people working at Café Momentum’s pop-up dinner this week and show them that the sky is the limit for their potential. I relate to them because I’ve been in their shoes. And, I believe in them.”

“My internship with Café Momentum five years ago was life-changing. The experience helped me discover a passion for the restaurant industry and a support system of people who truly care about me,” said Café Momentum Restaurant Associate and Momentum Ambassador, Jedarrian Jones.

“Café Momentum is more than a program — it’s my family. I’m proud to be here at the Super Bowl sharing what Café Momentum has done for me and what it can do to help others.”

Pop-up dinner attendees included:

— Momentum Ambassadors (former interns) and local L.A. justice system-involved youth

— Chad Houser, Renowned Chef, CEO and Founder of Café Momentum, and CEO of M.A.C.

— Shaun Alexander, NFL Legend, Stand Together Ambassador, Players Coalition Member

— Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints Linebacker and Players Coalition Task Force Member

— Dhani Jones, Former NFL Linebacker, Stand Together Ambassador, and Emcee for the evening

— Alice Marie Johnson, CEO of Taking Action for Good (TAG), Criminal Justice Reform Advocate and Stand Together Ambassador

— Michael “Harry O” Harris, Founder of Godfather Entertainment, GF Music and Death Row Records

Scott Budnick, Founder, Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)

Evan Feinberg, Executive Director, Stand Together Foundation