Football star tackles nontraditional investment.

Good works often flow from gridiron glories. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has established a foundation to promote the family. Chris Zorich, nose tackle for the Chicago Bears, buys game tickets for orphans and hands out Thanksgiving food baskets to the needy. And Miami Dolphins tight end Keith Jackson was the driving force behind the establishment of a $3 million youth center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Now Reggie White, the standout defensive end for the Green Bay Packers, is launching perhaps the most ambitious altruistic effort ever by a professional athlete: a program to establish community-development banks in inner cities.

These "nondepository" institutions, while not offering checking and savings accounts, would finance down payments on home purchases plus business startups and expansions with low-interest loans of $500 to $15,000. The banks would encourage low-overhead, home-based businesses and stress accountability by requiring loan recipients to attend seminars on mortgages or management techniques.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Rather than just alleviating the conditions and results of poverty, White wants to tackle the roots of economic despair. He believes investing in people financially will help save them spiritually.

"Jesus said, 'I'll make you fishers of men.' I don't fish, but I know that you've got to use certain types of bait to catch certain types of fish," says the 32-year-old White, an ordained nondenominational minister and associate pastor at his home congregation, the Inner City Church, in Knoxville, Tennessee. "Right now our churches as a whole aren't meeting the needs of the people."

"What frustrates Reggie is that, after you reach people, you need ...

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