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Former Falcon Brian Jordan cultivates education and literacy through his foundation

The first of three stories of the Next Gen Storytellers project explores the origins of how Brian Jordan -- a former professional two-sport athlete with the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves -- found inspiration for his Brian Jordan Foundation. 


The first of three stories of the Next Gen Storytellers project explores the origins of how Brian Jordan -- a former professional two-sport athlete with the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves -- found inspiration for his Brian Jordan Foundation.

Story by Evan Spann and Brodric Houston

ATLANTA -- Parents often leave an indelible imprint on their children's lives.

Former Atlanta Falcons defensive back and Atlanta Braves right fielder Brian Jordan has parents, Betty and Alvin, who positively impacted his two-sport professional career, and are now similarly affecting his non-profit organization.

"It all started because my mom was an educator," Jordan said. "She made the kids believe that they could do whatever they aspired to do in that class. Watching that, I knew that if I ever make it and reach my dreams and my goals, I would start a foundation and do the same – give kids hope."

Jordan created the Brian Jordan Foundation in 1998, which is committed to creating and supporting programs for children and their families that will directly improve their quality of life. 

One of the main aspects of the foundation is an annual scholarship. High school seniors attending accredited four-year institutions or technical colleges are eligible for a yearly financial award, mentorship opportunities and workshops on topics such as financial literacy. The journey begins with a mixer, allowing mentors to immediately build relationships with their scholars.

Two of the 2023 scholarship recipients, Keyshawn Wiley and Julius Spencer, are second-semester freshmen at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

"All of the recipients connected during the mixer, but the board is very generous; they are very open and very welcoming as well," Spencer said. "So we all formed relationships with them. I feel comfortable just reaching out to any one of them at any certain time." 

The goal of these relationships is to last beyond college.

Jordan loves to hear about how the young change agents who won the scholarship as high school seniors develop into professional leaders.

"To see the success stories that we've had – I mean, we've had CEOs that started out with scholarships – it's unbelievable," Jordan said. "It just brings joy to my heart to touch a kid's life, give them an opportunity and for them to just excel, and that's what it's all about."

And that's not all the Brian Jordan Foundation provides.

Jordan's reading challenge is another aspect of the foundation; the challenge promotes literacy skills and a love for reading through outreach tours dedicated to children. He knows he would have benefited from this initiative growing up, and hopes to help younger generations benefit as a result.

Jordan admittedly struggled with reading as a child; however, as an adult, he released his first children's book, "I Told You I Can Play."

"It's crazy because I was that kid who had no confidence in reading," Jordan said. "In 2004, I woke up with this idea in my head, and I just wrote it out. I tell everybody it's a gift from God to me because I would think I am the last person to write children's books."

Jordan's children, whom he considers his biggest critics, reviewed his first draft and ultimately approved of his story.

Atlanta Falcons defensive back Brian Jordan #40 during the game in Atlanta against the Minnesota Vikings on September 8, 1991 (Photo by Jimmy Cribb)

Though he has written five more books since then, "I Told You I Can Play" remains Jordan's favorite publication because of how personal it is. The theme is to dream big, to overcome challenges and never to give up – fundamental lessons he believes every person should learn. 

"For me, the fact that I did grow up having no confidence in reading, my story to the kids today, it resonates," Jordan said. "Now they know they have hope and think they can do it, too."

Jordan's long-term goal is for there to be animated movie adaptations of the stories.

The third pillar of the Brian Jordan Foundation is the annual celebrity golf weekend tournament. For years, legendary entertainers, such as Chris Tucker of "Rush Hour" fame, have supported Jordan's foundation through the tournament.

"Everybody loves golf, celebrities love golf, so I decided to have a celebrity golf tournament and invite some of my celebrity friends and raise money," Jordan said. "We have a great relationship with our sponsors, who have supported us for a long time."

While grateful for sponsors, the initial funding for the Brian Jordan Foundation came from a more familiar source: himself. Jordan personally funded his own foundation at its creation to realize his childhood dream.

"I wrote down my dreams because my dad said, 'No dream is too small. No dream is too big,'" Jordan said.

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