Chris Long is doing his part to increase educational equality in Charlottesville after pledging to donate the remaining 10 game checks of his 2017 season toward private-school scholarships, but it’s not as if aiding students in his hometown hasn’t been common practice for the 32-year-old Philadelphia Eagles defensive end.

In fact, Long’s first contributions to Charlottesville, which he said are meant to provide all-expenses-paid educations at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, came well before the former first-round draft pick donated his first six checks of the year — a commitment to education at a time the city was recovering from an infamous white supremacist rally.

“It’s always been important to him, and him and his wife had already been sending scholarships to Charlottesville for about six years,” Nicole Woodie, who manages The Chris Long Foundation, told CBSSports.com. “With the current state of our nation and what Chris and his wife, Megan, feel strongly about, he just felt more compelled to be a little more public with his giving.”

About six years ago, Long was still playing for the St. Louis Rams, who made him the second overall pick of the 2008 draft. It was with the Rams when the veteran pass rusher earned the NFL‘s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, simulated being homeless with teammate William Hayes and founded the Waterboys initiative for building clean water wells in African communities. That came after a college career at the University of Virginia and a four-star track record at St. Anne’s Belfield, where Woodie said the Longs provided funds for at least one student scholarship per year.

All along, Woodie added, Long has preached using his platform to make change in the community, and that is doubly the case in his current Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign, which has already elicited more than $180,000 in matching donations from fans, businesses and fellow athletes.

“He really sees the opportunity,” Woodie said, echoing Long’s mentality. “Like, ‘When I retire, if I give $5, it’s $5. But right now, we’re inspiring our fans and other folks as an NFL player, and no matter how you feel about certain things in the world, we can all agree that the future of our nation lies within our youth.'”


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