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NFL Foundation Grassroots Program

Grants to USA Nonprofits and Schools in Multiple
States for Improvements to Local Football Fields

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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National Football League (NFL) Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Deadline Date:

10/16/17 Receipt


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Grants to USA nonprofit community-based organizations, middle schools, and high schools in multiple states to enhance the safety, accessibility, and quality of local football fields within the funding source’s market areas. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program staff prior to applying. Consideration will be given to projects serving low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

The funding source has market areas in the following States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, DC, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Strong preference will be given to those proposals that seek to upgrade existing facilities that are in poor condition or otherwise underutilized; (2) demonstrate active use of the fields; (3) attract matching funding that exceeds the minimum required match of 1:1; (4) involve local partnerships with nonprofit community partners (e.g., USA Football, Parks and Recreation Departments, YMCA branches, etc.) to promote youth sports safety and community programming on the fields; (5) provide for continuing maintenance and field safety; and (6) involve youth football programs that are currently registered and compliant with USA Football’s Heads Up Football player safety program.

Grants are given only for capital expenditures.

The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program Objectives:

Athletic fields can serve as tremendous community assets by offering opportunities for recreation, education, and relaxation that contribute to the local quality of life. The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program seeks to redress the shortage of clean, safe and accessible football fields in low and moderate-income neighborhoods.

nonprofit neighborhood-based organizations can play a leading role in the improvement of existing or creation of new athletic playing fields. With experience in both real estate development and community building, many of these organizations possess the capacity to address both the capital aspects of playing fields development and the program elements (i.e. youth football leagues, sports tournaments, science fairs, summer festivals, community celebrations, and after-school events). Equally important to this experience, neighborhood-based organizations have connections to their community that legitimize their operations and draw resident support for their work. If local residents have a sense of ownership and see themselves as stakeholders in the creation and maintenance of playing fields, these community assets are more likely to be protected and preserved for long-term use. The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program is intended not only to respond to the immediate shortage of playing fields, but also to build an infrastructure through partnerships and resident involvement that will sustain these open spaces for community use.

In an effort to incorporate and improve health and safety on community football fields, the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program collaborates with USA Football, the sport’s national governing body in the United States. USA Football offers the sport’s only nationally accredited coach certification program; membership benefits for coaches, players, and youth football parents; and more than 350 football training events annually. As part of its efforts to promote a better and safer game, USA Football also assists youth football organizations with background checks for coaches and other adult volunteers. With members residing in 50 states and Washington D.C, USA Football serves as the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams.

There are two levels of funding available: 1) general field support (e.g. irrigation, bleachers, lights, etc.); and 2) field surface grants.

General Field Support: Applicants may submit requests for capital projects not associated with the actual field surface. This support includes the installation/refurbishment of bleachers, concession stands, lights, irrigation systems, etc.

Field Surface Grants: Matching grants are available to help finance the resurfacing of a community, middle school or high school football field. Matching grants will be available to applicants seeking to install new synthetic sports turf surfaces. The ability of these new surfaces to withstand constant use and require little ongoing maintenance costs makes this an attractive option for communities, schools and youth groups to consider.

A smaller number of matching grants of will be available to help finance the resurfacing of a community, middle school or high school football field utilizing natural grass/ sod surfaces. If applicants choose to utilize natural grass/sod surfaces as opposed to the synthetic sports surfaces, a minimum five-year maintenance plan and corresponding financial budget must be provided in order to demonstrate that the applying organization will maintain the field despite projected wear and tear and potential overuse by youth sports participants. Funds from the Program may not be used to maintain field surfaces, as all grant funds must be used for capital expenditures.

Selection Criteria:

Organizations and their projects will be selected for funding based upon the following criteria:

1. Feasibility of the proposed project. The project budget must be based upon realistic costs, preferably written contractor’s estimates.

2. Project readiness. Sources of funding for the entire budget should be identified. Plans for field renovation should take into account the schedule of recreation activities over the course of the year. A project timeline should be specified in the proposal.

3. Impact upon neighborhood and support from the community. Only proposals that locate projects in low and moderate-income communities will be considered. The proposal should clearly state how the field improvements would benefit the community. It also must clearly detail how many youth and adults make use of the field for football and for other activities. Moreover, the proposal must also include a projected increase in the number of people that will use the facility as a result of the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program improvements. Support letters from other neighborhood and partner organizations and joint use agreements (where applicable) must be included as well as contact information for the youth football organizations and high school football programs scheduled to use the field.

4. Security of future field maintenance and safety. Proposals must have written commitments of maintenance funding for a minimum of five years and a detailed five-year maintenance plan in order to demonstrate that the applicant will maintain the field despite projected wear and tear and potential overuse by youth sports participants. As a reminder, NFL Foundation Grassroots funds may not be used to maintain field surfaces, as all grant funds must be used for capital expenditures.

5. Capacity of organization and its partners to carry out project. The applicant organization must demonstrate, through its current management team and previous experience, the ability to manage a project of this size and nature.

Capital improvements refer to the physical development of the field and its surrounding amenities. Such projects may include, but are not limited to, new or renovated irrigation systems, topsoil, sod or seeding, lights, bleachers, public address systems, fences, restroom or locker room facilities, goalposts, and scoreboards.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 171731

Estimated Size of Grant:

General Field Support: Applicants may submit requests of up to $50,000.

Field Surface Grants: Matching grants of up to $250,000 are available to help finance the resurfacing of a community, middle school or high school football field. Matching grants of up to $250,000 will be available to applicants seeking to install new synthetic sports turf surfaces.

A smaller number of matching grants of up to $100,000 will be available to help finance the resurfacing of a community, middle school or high school football field utilizing natural grass/sod surfaces.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

In order to be eligible for a grant under the Program, projects must be sponsored by nonprofit community-based organizations registered as exempt from Federal Income Tax under Internal Revenue Service Code Section 501(c)(3) or middle or high schools.

In addition, all organizations applying for funds must be located specifically and exclusively within NFL Target Markets, listed in Attachment A and serve low to moderate-income areas within those markets.

To be eligible for the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, organizations applying for grant funds must meet all of the criteria listed below:

-Be a community-based organization, middle school or high school serving a neighborhood consisting primarily of low and moderate-income families and individuals.
-Have at least one-full time staff person (all-volunteer organizations will not be considered);
-Be in existence for at least three years;
-Have a proven track record in real estate development and/or parks programming;
-Have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status/school status; and
-Be located in an NFL Target Market.

Please note:
-Schools must demonstrate the ability of the community to also utilize the field;
-Universities and college campuses are not eligible to apply for NFL Foundation Grassroots grants and will not be considered for funding.

Additionally, the facility should recommend that all youth organizations require all youth football coaches be certified through USA Football’s Coach Education program that offers three distinct certifications that include: Flag Certification, Youth Tackle Certification and Middle & High School Coach Certification. If an NFL Foundation Grassroots field grant is awarded, the youth and high school football organizations scheduled to utilize that field should become USA Football members through its Heads Up Football High School and Heads Up Football Youth offerings.

Public agencies (other than public schools) may not apply for grants from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program. However, community-based nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) designation, middle schools and high schools meeting all other organizational criteria, and private schools with 501(c) (3) designation may apply to make improvements on fields owned and managed by public sector entities (e.g. City, Parks and Recreation Departments, etc.). In those cases, the applicant must show evidence that (1) the public entity supports the proposal; (2) the public entity authorizes the applicant to carry out the proposed capital improvements (this authorization must take into account relevant labor/union regulations and liability issues); (3) the public entity demonstrates its financial commitment to field maintenance; and (4) the field is open to and used by the community for organized athletics and other events through joint use agreements.

Note: Only organizations located in low-moderate income areas within the following Target Markets are eligible to apply:

-Arizona Cardinals: Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, Flagstaff, Sacaton, Tucson, AZ

-Atlanta Falcons: Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, DeKalb and Hall Counties, GA

-Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore, MD

-Buffalo Bills: Buffalo, Lackawanna, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga, Lockport, Alden, Akron, Gowanda, NY

-Carolina Panthers: North and South Carolina

-Chicago Bears: Chicago, Brookfield, Chicago Heights, Riverdale, Blue Island, North Chicago, Waukegan, Aurora, Peoria, IL

-Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Clermont, Butler, Warren, OH; Northern Kentucky (Boone County, Campbell County, Kenton County)

-Cleveland Browns: Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Garfield Heights, Parma Heights, Toledo, Youngstown, Lorain County, OH

-Dallas Cowboys: Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, Irving, Frisco, TX

-Denver Broncos: Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Commerce City, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Eastern Plains (Sedgwick, Logan, Phillips, Morgan, Washington, Yuma, Lincoln, Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Crowley, Otero, Bent, Prowers, & Baca counties), CO

-Detroit Lions: Detroit, Highland Park, Allen Park, Dearborn, Flint, MI

-Houston Texans: Houston, TX

-Green Bay Packers: Green Bay, Lacrosse, Madison, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Menasha, WI

-Indianapolis Colts: Indianapolis, IN

-Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville; Nassau, Clay, St. John’s, Baker, Putnam and Flagler Counties, FL; Camden and Glynn Counties, GA

-Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City, MO; Kansas City, KS

-Los Angeles Chargers: Los Angeles County, CA; Orange County, CA; San Diego, CA

-Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles County, CA San Fernando Valley, CA

-Miami Dolphins: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Monroe, Martin and Port St. Lucie Counties, FL

-Minnesota Vikings: Minneapolis, Duluth, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Rochester, MN

-New England Patriots: Boston, Springfield, Foxborough, Attleboro, MA; Nashua, NH; Providence, Central Falls, RI

-New Orleans Saints: Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Baton Rouge, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Grant, Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafourche, La Salle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Sabine, St. Bernard, St. James, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, St. John, St. Charles, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermillion, Vernon, and Washington Parishes. New Orleans, LA; Southern Mississippi

-New York Giants: Englewood, Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Paterson, Hoboken, NJ;
Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Peekskill, NY; Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, CT

-New York Jets: Morris County (Dover, Morris Township), NJ; Hempstead, NYC, Roosevelt, Uniondale, NY

-Oakland Raiders: Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Richmond, Union City, Walnut Creek, CA

-Philadelphia Eagles:Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, PA; Camden, Trenton, NJ; Wilmington, DE

-Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh and Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair County, Butler, Cambria County, Fayette, Green, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, & Westmoreland counties, PA;
Fairmont, Weirton, WV

-San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco, South San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Pajaro, Salinas, San Jose, Watsonville, Santa Clara, CA

-Seattle Seahawks: Washington State

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Seminole, Manatee, Polk, Pasco, and Sarasota Counties, FL

-Tennessee Titans: Chattanooga, Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis and Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Sumner, Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson, Robertson, Cannon, Hickman, Macon, Maury, Smith, and Trousdale counties, TN

-Washington Redskins: Washington, DC; Prince George’s County, MD; Silver Spring, MD; Richmond, Virginia Beach, Henrico County, VA

Pre-Application Information:

The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program requires a minimum local match of one dollar for every NFL Foundation Grassroots Program dollar (1:1). For example, if the proposal requests $250,000 from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, it must demonstrate sources and commitments for at least $250,000 in local funds, however should demonstrate total funding sources to cover the costs of the entire project. Match funding at a higher ratio will strengthen the proposal.

NFL Foundation Grassroots applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to Mike Trott, Service & Experience Sr. Coordinator of USA Football to establish a relationship, obtain information on how to become a USA Football member (on a league or individual basis), become a member of Heads Up Football High School or Heads Up Football Youth, learn more about the background check program, and inquire about further football programming assistance.

Proposals are due by October 16, 2017.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Email proposals to:

Mike Trott, Service & Experience Sr. Coordinator

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Arizona: NFL Target Markets;   California: NFL Target Markets;   Colorado: NFL Target Markets;   Connecticut: NFL Target Markets;   Delaware: NFL Target Markets;   Florida: NFL Target Markets;   Georgia: NFL Target Markets;   Illinois: NFL Target Markets;   Indiana: NFL Target Markets;   Kansas: NFL Target Markets;   Kentucky: NFL Target Markets;   Louisiana: NFL Target Markets;   Maryland: NFL Target Markets;   Massachusetts: NFL Target Markets;   Michigan: NFL Target Markets;   Minnesota: NFL Target Markets;   Mississippi: NFL Target Markets;   Missouri: NFL Target Markets;   New Hampshire: NFL Target Markets;   New Jersey: NFL Target Markets;   New York: NFL Target Markets;   North Carolina: NFL Target Markets;   Ohio: NFL Target Markets;   Pennsylvania: NFL Target Markets;   Rhode Island: NFL Target Markets;   South Carolina: NFL Target Markets;   Tennessee: NFL Target Markets;   Texas: NFL Target Markets;   Virginia: NFL Target Markets;   Washington, DC: NFL Target Markets;   Washington: NFL Target Markets;   West Virginia: NFL Target Markets;   Wisconsin: NFL Target Markets