Community organizations, schools and parks in 15 cities across the country will receive grants totaling $2.5 million to build or refurbish neighborhood fields through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program, it was announced Wednesday.
More than $37 million in grants have been awarded to revitalize playing fields in underserved neighborhoods since the NFL partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's leading community development organization, in 1998. For the past 15 years, Grassroots grants have supported the construction or renovation of more than 290 fields nationwide.
Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.
The 2013 funding cycle will include new fields, or field enhancements, in Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cleveland Covington, Ky.; Green Bay, Wis.; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; and Seattle.
"The NFL Foundation is pleased to continue its work with LISC in improving the quality, safety and accessibility of fields in communities nationwide," said Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson, Chairman of the NFL Foundation. "The revitalization of these fields will provide safe places for communities to come together, "Play 60" and enjoy the many benefits of sports participation."
In an effort to incorporate and improve health and safety on community football fields, the NFL Foundation and LISC have collaborated with USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States. Each year, applicants who demonstrate a willingness to provide for continuing maintenance and field safety, and who seek to involve youth football programs that are part of the USA Football Heads Up Football initiative, are given special consideration.
In addition to the $2.5 million in grants awarded by the NFL Foundation and LISC, ESPN has donated $100,000 to be used by grantees in Connecticut, Washington, North Carolina, and Illinois to help cover the costs of installation/refurbishment of bleachers, concession stands, lights or irrigation systems.
LISC identifies local, nonprofit, community-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing football fields in schools and neighborhood parks. Through the program, local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their communities. The agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.
"These fields are useful in so many ways," said Michael Rubinger, LISC's president and CEO. "With them, local organizations can promote good physical fitness, teamwork, and community spirit – all critical elements of neighborhood health. The NFL Foundation has been a great partner in creating these essential community assets."
-- NFL Communications