NFL quarterback Josh Allen, who played his high school football in the western Fresno County farming town of Firebaugh, is putting his considerable name recognition behind a fledgling company that purchases – and then forgives – consumers’ debts to creditors.
Allen, the star signal-caller for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, has teamed up with Colorado-based ForgiveCo PBC Inc., a public benefit company, to buy chunks of debt adding up to $10 million for people in financial hardship. But instead of collecting what’s owed, the program writes off the debt, eliminating the consumer’s obligation.
“Coming from a small town and now living out my dream playing football, I recognize that I owe a debt of gratitude to the fans for their support not only each Sunday but also their continued support of my off-field endeavors,” Allen said in a statement issued by the company Tuesday. “I was honored when ForgiveCo approached me with a chance to uplift thousands of hard-working Americans in the communities that support me by alleviating the burden of debt from their lives.”
The debt relief is being targeted toward people in the Fresno-Visalia area, where Allen played high school and junior college football; Wyoming, where he played his college football; and in Buffalo, New York, where Allen has played professionally since he was drafted in 2018.
“Josh was involved in each phase of the process, including targeting regions around the country that trace back to his upbringing and career,” ForgiveCo co-founder and CEO Craig Antico said. “We don’t publicly reveal the amount that our partners contribute, and Josh requested that his contribution remain private.”
ForgiveCo works with companies or other “brand” entities such as Allen to engineer deals to purchase “debt of necessity” at a fraction of the balance, and then forgive the debt.
According to the company’s website, such debts may include mortgages, car loans, student loans, utility bills and other types of obligations.
The branding partner receives the benefit of positive publicity or goodwill. People whose debts are purchased and forgiven receive a letter from ForgiveCo on behalf of the brand partner – Allen, in this instance – notifying them of the abolition of the debt.
“You are the beneficiary of an act of kindness provided by football star Josh Allen and ForgiveCo, and the account balance is now zero,” the letter states. “Josh believes hardworking Americans need a chance to unburden themselves from debt. ForgiveCo partnered with Josh to create a one-time moment that wipes out your debt and for others that have faced circumstances that led to debt.”
The company reported that this first debt-relief effort is expected to assist about 2,600 people with an average loan forgiveness of about $3,800.
“Josh was instrumental in determining who received the debt forgiveness regionally,” Antico said. “However, Josh does not personally pick recipients of the debt forgiveness.”
As a commercial endeavor rather than a nonprofit, “the way our business model works is that brands come to us that want to create a life-changing experience in the communities they serve,” Antico said. “It’s a new type of way to reach customers – by having a letter with your logo on it” that is sent to the people who benefit from the debt forgiveness.