In a year in which he was named the MVP of the NFL for the third time, Aaron Rodgers was also dubbed the North Valley’s MVP (as in Most Valuable Philanthropist) by local TV news.
Aaron has certainly earned both titles. His excellence on the football field has long been celebrated nationwide, and now the rest of the country is learning what we already knew here — that his heart for his hometown grows along with his fame.
He has often donated to help athletic programs at the schools that represented his pathway to the pros, Pleasant Valley High School and Butte College. Lately he has seen a greater need, however, and eagerly stepped in to help. After the devastating Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018, Aaron made a $1 million donation to open a fire recovery fund at NVCF. That attracted millions more in donations. With NVCF and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Aaron became a founding partner of the Butte Strong Fund.
He leaped forward again in a big way this year.
Trying to find a way to help small, locally owned businesses that were struggling financially during the pandemic, he opened the Aaron Rodgers Small-Business COVID-19 Fund at NVCF. We worked with him to design a grant program and issued two rounds of grants, in March and May, totaling $1.6 million. The grants went to 159 businesses, mostly restaurants and retail establishments, and averaged more than $10,000 for rent and other expenses.
Aaron contributed $1.2 million of that, while $236,725 came from “Jeopardy!” after Aaron hosted the show for two weeks in April and named NVCF as his charity of choice.
“Aaron’s heart continually amazes me. Whenever our area faces significant challenges, Aaron is always thinking about where he came from,” said Alexa Benson-Valavanis, NVCF’s president and CEO. “Even in the midst of his whirlwind of a life, he’s there asking how he can help. We are incredibly fortunate to have Aaron on our team.”
You can watch the surprise calls Aaron made to various grant recipients and interviews with some of the business owners themselves on our YouTube channel.