February 2011 Featured Article
Opportunities for Recreational Activities
continued budget cuts looming and a lack of funding for essential police and
fire departments, reductions for municipal recreational program funding are also
very likely. Additional pressure from the national administration and the
“Let’s Move” campaign, coupled with the urgency of the childhood obesity
epidemic in our nation, make cuts in recreational programs unpopular. To fill
this funding gap, there are several grant opportunities through the national
sport league foundations; they have stepped in and contributed big dollars in
the form of grant programs for sporting fields, equipment and lights. Major
League Baseball, The National Football League and Major League Soccer all have
non-profit foundations with grant programs to help communities with a variety of
recreational field improvements and equipment purchases. While these grant
competitions are on a national level, several New Jersey municipalities have
received awards in recent years. Below is a summary of these grant programs and
examples of New Jersey municipalities that have capitalized on these programs to
make a big impact on health and recreational opportunities for youth!
Major League Baseball: Baseball
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund was
established in 1999 though a partnership between the Major League Baseball and
the Major League Baseball Players Foundation. It has a mission of “promoting and enhancing the growth of youth participation
in baseball and softball throughout the world by funding programs, fields,
coaches' training, and the purchase of uniforms and equipment to encourage and
maintain youth participation in the game.” In recent years the average grant
award was $40,000. The fund typically averages 40 grants per year with an
allocation of approximately $1.5 million annually.
mission of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund is to increase the number of kids
participating in baseball or softball programs, improve the quality of programs,
create new or innovate ways of expanding and improving baseball or softball
programs, exemplify the ability to generate matching funds, address programs for
children ages 10-16, support existing programs which have demonstrated success
in providing a quality baseball or softball experience for youth and to enhance
opportunities for minorities and women.
In 2010, the Irvington Township Department of Parks and Recreation received a grant to renovate a little league baseball and practice field, and fund equipment and uniforms to support the local youth league of over 120 participants. “The renovations are being made to address the recent decline in participation and field conditions and to provide a safe alternative for the communities at risk children.”
The North Newark Roseville Sports group of North Newark also received an award from the Baseball Tomorrow grant program in 2010 to purchase equipment, batting cages, pitching tunnels and additional related equipment for a recently constructed indoor baseball facility.
Deadlines for this grant application are four times a year; however letters of inquiry regarding your project can be submitted at any time. For additional information regarding the Baseball Tomorrow Fund visit http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/community/btf.jsp.
The National Football League Grassroots Program, sponsored through Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
The NFL Grassroots program was established in 1998 though a consortium of the National Football League, National Football League Players Association and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC). The program has allocated over $28 million in grants over 12 years and has resulted in the construction or renovation of nearly 225 fields over this time period. The NFL Grassroots program “seeks to use football as a catalyst to promote positive youth development, support youth and high school football needs nationwide and also ensure the health of grassroots football in future generations”.
Through this grant program fields are newly constructed or significantly renovated with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goals posts and turf.
In 2010 New Jersey had two grant recipients, including the Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, on behalf of the Philadelphia Eagles. The high school will be constructing a multipurpose turf field that will be used for various sports played at the school including football. The Trust for Public Land also received a grant award in Newark on behalf of the New York Jets.
The deadline for this grant has historically been in October. Additional information about this grant opportunity is available at http://www.lisc.org/section/ourwork/national/youth/request.
U.S. Soccer Foundation Grant Program
The U.S. Soccer Foundation was founded in 1995 and has awarded over 600 organizations in all 50 states grants. The mission of the foundation’s grant program is to “support projects throughout the U.S. that focus on keeping children in vulnerable communities active, healthy and safe from the dangers of the streets. The Foundation awards grants to help pay for field development, uniforms, player equipment, travel costs, facility rental, registration costs, and training for players, coaches and referees”.
In 2011 the U.S. Soccer Foundation focused on improving the health and well being of children in underserved communities and will “support programming coaching and equipment for players and the construction of safe playing fields to facilitate the growth of soccer throughout the United States.”
St. Benedicts Preparatory School in Newark received a footprint field grant to improve its fields in 2011.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation grant program applications are typically due in October. For more information please visit http://www.ussoccerfoundation.org.
National grant applications are highly competitive; however understanding the available grants and the keys to a successful proposal are essential to obtaining these funds. Please pass this information along to your parks and recreation department, or to your local youth sports organizations as they and your community can benefit substantially from these programs.
Triad Associates is currently the League’s Grant Consulting Firm. Their firm, which is known for its expertise in community and economic development, including strategic planning, redevelopment, acquisition, relocation and funding, has brought diverse plans and projects to life by generating more than $580,000,000 for over 120 public, private and nonprofit clients throughout the Northeast region since 1978. Every member of the Triad team is personally committed and dedicated to the success of its clients and the projects that benefit communities.
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