Jonathan Allen knew as soon as he signed his four-year contract extension that he wanted to give some of it back to people in need.
On Tuesday, the same day he was unveiled as the Washington Football Team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, Allen showed just how generous he plans to be with his increased salary. He and his wife, Hannah, announced they will donate $3 million to local charities over the course of his career with Washington.
"I'm just blessed to be in the position I am and felt almost obligated to give some of it back," Allen said.
The donation falls in line with the dedication Allen has given to helping the DMV community, particularly children who are in the foster care system. That work goes all the way back to 2019, when he partnered with Microsoft and Papa John's to open an innovation lounge in the Bruce House in northeast Washington D.C., the only homeless youth shelter for minors.
On Dec. 7, Jonathan Allen and his wife Hannah visited Sasha Bruce Youthwork to wrap gifts purchased from families' holiday wishlists. Throughout his five years in Washington, the defensive tackle has forged a special relationship with the organization, which works to improve the lives of runaway, homeless, abused and neglected at-risk youth and their families in the Washington area. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team and Joe Koezly/Team IFA)
In 2020, Allen participated in weekly counseling sessions with youth in the community as well as contributing $45,000 to their Rapid Response funding initiative. This year, Jonathan and Hannah organized a Thanksgiving event where they, along with Grace Covenant Church, distributed canned goods and gift cards to Sasha Bruce Youthwork families to ensure the families would enjoy Thanksgiving meals.
Giving out $3 million is certainly a large number, but Allen knows it's going to great causes.
"It's gonna help a lot of people out," Allen said. "At the end of the day, that's the goal."
Allen knows the money given to kids and other groups will provide resources to those who need them most. As much as it will help, though, the time he's been able to spend with kids has been one of the most invaluable things he can give.
"When you go out there, when you hang out with the kids and you start to develop a relationship with them…I think that's what makes it worthwhile and what makes it cool."
The donation comes as no surprise to head coach Ron Rivera. He's been around Allen for two seasons now, and the biggest thing he's noticed about the defensive tackle: he's an all-in kind of person.
"Whatever he does, he's all into it," Rivera said. "Whether it's football, being part of this football team, always out there in the community, working with the different aspects of the community service that he does … I was fortunate enough to play with Walter [Payton] and he epitomizes Walter's spirit. He really does."
Allen's donation is the latest example of why he is deserving of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. From now until Jan. 17, 2022, fans are encouraged to to post on Twitter using #WPMOYChallenge and their favorite nominee's last name in the post.
The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice from Nationwide, the runner-up will receive $10,000 and the third-place winner will receive $5,000.
"Growing up in Ashburn, I would say that Jonathan wants to help his community that much more," Hannah said. "Most people just see him as a football player, and they see the fame and they see his success on the field. He's so much more than that."