Frequently Asked Questions
The NFL Foundation
The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health and safety of athletes, youth football, and the communities which support our game.
The National Football League decided to restructure its previous charitable arms – NFL Charities and the NFL Youth Football Fund – into one philanthropic organization in order to devote more resources to its goal of making a difference in the lives of those touched by football. While much of the work that was previously done by NFL Charities and the NFL Youth Football Fund will continue under the NFL Foundation, the restructuring allows the NFL Foundation to focus on the issues that are most important to the game – youth football and player health and safety.
The NFL Foundation offers grants to support safety in youth football and all sports, as well as community programs. In addition, the NFL Foundation may choose to support programs and activities that meet its mission through special consideration grants. Funding proposals are not accepted in these cases.
The NFL Foundation is the sole philanthropic organization of the National Football League. Many of the NFL’s 32 clubs have foundations which may or may not provide grant opportunities.
For those who are interested in youth football grant opportunities but do not qualify for a grant from the NFL Foundation, we suggest you check USA Football (www.usafootball.com). For those interested in community grant opportunities and youth football initiatives in your area, please check your local NFL team’s website.
For former NFL players who are interested in funding for medical or other personal costs, please visit the NFL Player Care Foundation (www.NFLPlayerCare.com) website for more information.
NFL Foundation Grant Programs
The NFL Foundation accepts applications for the following grant programs (please check eligibility rules for each program to find out who can apply):
- Youth Football Development and Coaching Recognition
- NFL Club Matching Football Grants
- NFL Youth Football Camp Grants
- NFL Player Matching Youth Football Grants
- Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award
- Grassroots Field Refurbishment Grants
- Community Support
- NFL Club Community Grants
- NFL Player Foundation Grants
- NFL YET Program Grants
The application deadlines for NFL Foundation grants are different for each type of grant program. Please read the application for the grant you are interested in applying for to see the deadline.
Depending on the type of grant, there are different rules for who can apply. Each grant application provides information about the requirements for applicants.
The NFL Foundation supports youth football through its partnership with USA Football, as well as through the following grant programs:
- Youth Football Development & Coaching Recognition
- NFL Club Matching Youth Football Grants
- NFL Youth Football Camp Grants
- NFL Player Matching Youth Football Grants
- Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award
- Grassroots Field Refurbishment Grants
The NFL Foundation supports the community through the following grant programs:
- Community Support
- NFL Club Community Grants
- NFL Player Foundation Grants
- NFL YET Program Grants
NFL Foundation grant recipients who receive funding for youth football programs or initiatives also receive information about health and safety, including concussion prevention and management materials from the CDC Heads Up program. Additionally, the NFL Foundation supports health and safety efforts through its work with USA Football – to make the game safer to play. USA Football offers a variety of important services, including the sport’s only nationally accredited football coaching education course. More than 100,000 youth coaches since 2007 have completed this course which instructs on the game’s fundamentals and advances player safety. USA Football’s website – www.usafootball.com – also provides free information on concussion awareness and management, proper equipment fitting, injury prevention, heat and hydration, nutrition and conditioning that can help your organization promote a better, safer game for your players.
The NFL Foundation currently is reviewing its space within the medical research grant category. In the meantime, we strongly encourage eligible researchers and medical institutions to learn more about medical research grant opportunities provided by the NFL with its following partners:
Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NFL is providing $30 million in grant funding to the Foundation for the NIH to support its Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP). The initiative allows experts in the field to conduct research focused on the long-term health effect of injuries sustained by professional and amateur athletes in order to gain more insight into serious medical conditions that affect both athletes and the general public.
Through support from the SHRP, the NIH is calling for the best and brightest scientists and physicians to conduct ground-breaking medical research to enhance our understanding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury.
While the NFL’s support of the SHRP is initially focusing on brain injury, especially in athletes and veterans, SHRP may eventually expand to encompass other sports-related issues such as chronic degenerative joint disease, the transition from acute to chronic pain, sudden cardiac arrest in youth athletes and heat and hydration related illness and injury.
For more information, please visit http://www.fnih.org/work/key-initiatives/sports-and-health-research-program
GE/NFL Head Health Initiative: GE and the NFL have teamed to accelerate concussion research, diagnosis and treatment by launching the Head Health Initiative – a four-year, $60 million partnership to help improve the safety of athletes, members of the military and society overall. The initiative includes two components: 1) a four-year, $40 million research and development program to determine the key imaging biomarkers in the brain; and 2) a two-year, open innovation program to invest up to $20 million in research and technology to better understand and diagnose mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
The Head Health initiative will include two Challenge topics:
- Challenge I: Methods for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Challenge II: The Mechanics of Injury: Innovative Approaches for Preventing and Identifying Brain Injuries
To learn more, please visit www.nflgebrainchallenge.com
My youth or high school football team needs money to buy new equipment, how do I apply to the NFL Foundation?
The NFL Foundation does not accept funding solicitations from organizations that do not qualify for one of the grant programs.
If your team or organization does not qualify for a grant from the NFL Foundation, we suggest you check USA Football (www.usafootball.com), the official youth football development partner of the NFL. The NFL Foundation supports USA Football and its efforts in providing nonprofit youth football organizations and school districts with financial help, providing more than $1.5 million annually in equipment grants, field-building grants, and volunteer background check subsidies – all of which can help youth football leagues and school districts supplement their budgets.
For those interested in community grant opportunities, please check your local NFL team’s website.
The camps that are supported through the NFL Foundation are run by former or current NFL players, and not through our organization. Therefore, we don’t oversee camp timing, location or registration.
Many players who choose to run camps and seek funding through the NFL Foundation will promote their camps in local media outlets such as community papers, so this may be the best way to find out if any are in your area.
Finally, please contact your local parks and recreation department to find out if there are football camps in your area.
My youth or high school football team is trying to raise money for new equipment/uniforms/etc. Will the NFL Foundation donate NFL game tickets or merchandise for us to auction off?
Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming volume of requests, the NFL Foundation is unable to donate game tickets, items or funding for auctions, school events and other charitable functions. If you have not done so already, you may wish to contact the local NFL team(s) in your area for this type of donation.
The NFL Foundation provides current NFL players with opportunities to give back to their local communities through program support and recognition grants.
The NFL Foundation offers a range of support for current players who choose to: host free, non-contact football camps for kids, donate funds to youth and high school football programs, nominate their most influential high school football coach for the Don Shula NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award, or support their philanthropic work through the non-profit organizations they founded.
Grant programs available exclusively to current NFL players include:
- NFL YOUTH FOOTBALL CAMP GRANT PROGRAM: Grants of up to $4,000 are awarded to free youth football camps and clinics organized by current NFL players.
- NFL PLAYER MATCHING YOUTH FOOTBALL GRANT PROGRAM: Current NFL players who make financial contributions to youth and/or high school football programs may apply for matching grants of up to $5,000 for each program.
- DON SHULA NFL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR: Current NFL players may honor their former high school football coach who inspired their athletic and personal development by nominating him for the Don Shula NFL High School Football Coach of the Year award.
- NFL PLAYER FOUNDATION GRANT PROGRAM: The NFL Foundation recognizes the philanthropic work of current NFL players by affording them the opportunity to apply for grant funds to help support the nonprofit organizations they founded.
The NFL Foundation provides former NFL players with opportunities to give back to their local communities through grants that support youth and high school football programs as well as former players’ non-profit organizations.
Former players may choose to: host a free, non-contact football camp for kids, donate funds to youth and high school football programs, support the youth or high school football program that they currently coach, and assist the non-profit organizations that they founded. Please note: Only former NFL players who are vested under the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan may apply for NFL Foundation grant opportunities.
Grant Programs available exclusively to former NFL Players include:
- NFL YOUTH FOOTBALL CAMP GRANT PROGRAM: Grants of up to $4,000 are awarded to free youth football camps and clinics organized by former NFL players.
- NFL PLAYER MATCHING YOUTH FOOTBALL GRANT PROGRAM: Former NFL players can donate funds to a non-profit youth or high school football program that the NFL Foundation will match up to $5,000, OR former NFL players who give the commitment of time – by serving as a registered youth or high school football coach – can apply to have their non-profit youth or high school football program receive a “matching” grant of up to $8,000.
- NFL PLAYER FOUNDATION GRANT PROGRAM: Grants are awarded to recognize and support the charitable work of former NFL players’ nonprofit organizations that either fund and implement programs or function as grant-making foundations to other charitable organizations. Former NFL players must have founded their non-profit foundations and/or work in a full-time, salaried position for a non-profit.
I am a coach for a youth football/high school football team and we need new equipment, what grants can I apply for?
USA Football offers equipment grants to support youth leagues and elementary, middle and high school programs from across the country. The grants, totaling more than $1 million annually are awarded based on merit and need.
501(c)(3) non-profit youth football organizations and school-sponsored football programs may apply to USA Football for the following equipment grant offerings:
- Youth Football Equipment Grant (retail value approx. $1,000)
- High School Equipment Grant (retail value approx. $1,500)
Through its NFL Grassroots Field Grant Program, the NFL Foundation provides non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields. The grant program is offered through a partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which provides technical assistance and manages the initiative.
The grant program provides matching grants of up to $200,000 for capital improvement projects. In order to be eligible for an NFL Grassroots grant, projects must be sponsored by community-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or middle or high schools. Additionally, the organizations applying for matching funds must be located specifically and exclusively within NFL Target Markets, currently listed in the 2012 NFL Grassroots Grant Application and serve low to moderate income areas within those markets.
Strong preference is given to those proposals that:
- Seek to upgrade existing facilities that are in poor condition or otherwise underutilized
- Demonstrate active use of the fields
- Attract matching funding that exceeds the minimum required match of 1:1
- Involve local partnerships with non-profit community partners to promote youth and community programming on the fields
- Provide for continuing maintenance and field safety
As noted above, applicants may request a maximum of $200,000 from the NFL Grassroots Program to be used for capital improvements. Please review the full application and the below answer for additional details and stipulations for this grant program.
In order to be eligible for the NFL 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 to moderate-income families and individuals (schools must demonstrate the ability of the community to also utilize the field);
- 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
My town or youth football league needs a new field but we don’t qualify for a Grassroots Grant, what should we do?
Due to the challenges that exist for creating new fields or refurbishing old fields, the NFL Foundation must have strict guidelines for eligibility. If your organization is located in a qualified area but doesn’t necessarily meet all of the additional requirements needed to be eligible for a grant, we recommend contacting local, non-profit organizations in your area that may want to partner with you for the project.
I work for a community organization, are there any grants that I can apply for? Does the National Football League Foundation accept requests for event donations, individual grants and auction items?
Unfortunately, the NFL Foundation’s guidelines and resources do not allow us to consider personal appeal or any local/regional requests for support. We are a non-profit organization that is mandated to make grants only at a national level through a series of restricted programs and national partners in order to achieve our maximum level of impact.
Current and former NFL players may have third party representatives apply for NFL Foundation grants on their behalf. NFL club personnel, foundation directors, NFL player agents/management companies and/or school personnel may apply for grant opportunities using GAMS with approval from the eligible NFL player.
The NFL Foundation grant process is managed through the online Grant Application Management System (GAMS). To register for an account with the NFL Foundation, please go to the homepage and click on the “Register” button. If you have an account with the NFL Youth Football Fund or NFL Charities you will need to create a new account for the NFL Foundation.
Fill in the information requested to create an account. Please note that the NFL Foundation uses GAMS to send messages about applications. Every time a message is posted to your application by the NFL Foundation administrator an email will be sent to you. Therefore, it is very important that the email address you use for your account is checked regularly to ensure you can respond to any questions or updates about your application.
Finally, please be sure to read the eligibility requirements for the grant you are interested in.
The deadline depends on the grant you are applying for. Please check the application to find out the deadline. Please note that all materials must be submitted via the GAMS system and the status must say “Submitted” by the deadline in order to be considered for the grant.
The applicant is the individual who is responsible for making a grant possible. In many cases, this is an NFL player or coach who is qualified for a grant and has selected an organization to receive funding from the NFL Foundation.
The primary contact is the person who will receive all communication about the grant application from the NFL Foundation. This individual will also be responsible for answering any questions the Foundation might have about the application and must ensure that the application is submitted before the deadline, the grant agreement is signed by the correct people, and the final evaluation is completed. It is very important that the email address provided for the primary contact is valid and will be checked regularly.
Please refer to your specific Grant Agreement Terms and Conditions for detailed directions on how Grant funds may be used.
Grant funds must be used in direct correlation with the proposed plan presented to the NFL Foundation for the Program. Any significant changes in the purposes for which Grant funds are spent must be approved in writing by the NFL Foundation before implementation.
A message will be posted in GAMS stating the award amount and next steps in the application process. An email notification will also be sent to the primary contact email address.
Please note: Applicants MUST electronically sign the Grant Agreement Terms and Conditions before the NFL Foundation can process the Grant award check.
The status of your grant application is noted on your application dashboard. The table below explains the meaning of the application statuses:
The applicant has started, but not successfully submitted their application. Until an applicant fills in all required fields and uploads all required documents the application will remain in the incomplete status. While an application is in this status the applicant may edit it.
The applicant has successfully submitted their application and it is ready for review by NFL Foundation staff. While the application is in this state the user may not edit it, but they can view a read-only version of it.
The only way an application can get to this status is if an application isn’t completed by the due date. After 60 days in this status the application will move from current applications to archive.
Any application that was successfully submitted, but denied by the NFL Foundation on merits.
An application that has been approved by the NFL Foundation, but has not entered into grant agreement phase yet.
Grant Agreement Generated
The agreement has been generated by the NFL, but has not been signed by the user.
Grant Agreement Signed
The applicant has signed the agreement.
The grant check has been processed and sent to the applicant.
Final Evaluation Available
The final evaluation is available for the user to complete.
Final Evaluation Submitted
The applicant has submitted his/her final evaluation for review by the NFL Foundation.
The final evaluation has been approved by the NFL Foundation.
If you have any questions regarding the status of your application please post a message to the NFL Foundation team through the “Contact Us” system and we will get back to you promptly.
You can find the status of your application on your dashboard after you sign in on GAMS. Please refer to the chart under the question “How do I check the status of my grant application?” to read about each “Status” category and what it means about your application.
Each NFL Foundation Grant program has its own submission cycle. Please refer to the specific application for further details on deadlines.
If you do not see the application appear under the 'Apply' tab then it is likely the application is not yet available for submissions or the deadline has passed for the year.
It typically takes 14-21 business days for the NFL Foundation to process Grant award checks.
The primary contact listed in the application will receive the Grant check via FedEx delivery. Please ensure that the address provided in the application is correct and is not a PO Box. The Foundation will not send checks to PO Boxes.
Due to the high volume of applications we receive for this program, the NFL Foundation can no longer accept faxed documents. All required documents must be submitted online through GAMS If you have trouble uploading the documents, please send a message to the NFL Foundation through the messaging system and describe the issue. The NFL Foundation administrator will contact you to provide assistance.
The GAMS password recovery form is available on the “Sign In” page by clicking on the “Forgot Password” link. Remember: Your GAMS username and password are both case sensitive.
This is the 4-digit application number assigned by the Grant Application Management System to your specific grant application. This number should be used on all correspondence relating to your application.
You simply need access to the Internet to use the GAMS system. The system works across the latest versions of internet software, such as: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. If you have trouble accessing the site, consider updating your software (which is often free of charge) and trying again.
The most compatible browsers are:
- Internet Explorer 8,9,10
- Firefox version 17
- Chrome version 23
- Safari 6 for Mac - OS: OSX Lion
Typically, the application is incomplete because you have not completed all of the required fields in the application. If you are not sure which sections are missing information, please open your application and click on the “Save and Check for Errors” button at the bottom of the application page. This will cause the titles of any required fields to appear in red font. If you have filled out a field but it still appears in red, you may have filled it out incorrectly.
Common issues that cause errors include:
- A PO Box has been entered in the address section. The NFL Foundation requires that all applications include only physical addresses.
- Commas were used in between numbers in the financial portion of the application. Please remove any commas and try again.
- The numbers in the demographics table do not add up to 100%. Please check the numbers and try again.
You can use the print functionality on your Internet browser to print an application.
The GAMS system will accept most file formats up to 15 MB, including but not limited to the entire Microsoft suite (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) pdf, jpeg and tif documents.
We cannot accept:
- Video files such as .mov, .avi. mp4
- Audio Files such as .mp3. mp4, .ipa
- Executable files such as .exe, .msi, .iso
- Photoshop files such as .psd, .mpp, .eps
- Database file such as Microsoft access .mdb
- Flash Animation .flv
- Compressed or Zip files .zip, .tar
- Raw data files such as .xml, .xsl, .txt, .sql
Try the following steps if you are having trouble uploading:
- Reduce the file size of the item you are attempting to upload. The smaller the file the faster it will upload.
- If you are uploading a scanned document make sure the scanner is set to 300dpi for a smaller scan.
- If you are uploading pictures or images, reduce the resolution of the image. Pictures should not exceed 1200x960 resolution. This is the equivalent to a 5x7 picture.
- If you are uploading a word document that is too large, try converting to a PDF version.
The Grant Report is completed after a grant has been used and is required by the NFL Foundation. Grant Reports are a way for the NFL Foundation to keep track of how grant funds are used, and to ensure that the grant programs are working. The types of questions that need to be answered in the Grant Report are different for each grant program.
To access the GAMS Grant Report, login to GAMS and find the Grant Report link on your application's dashboard.
Remember: Keep copies of all receipts/invoices that indicate how grant money was used. The GAMS system requires that you submit copies of those receipts to the NFL Foundation when completing the Grant Report.
Once you complete the Grant Report, and it has been reviewed and finalized by the NFL Foundation you will become eligible to apply for future NFL Foundation grants. If, for some reason, you do not complete a grant report you and/or your organization will not be able to apply for future grants from the NFL Foundation.
Log onto GAMS and find the “Grant Report” link on your dashboard. You will need to respond to the questions about how the grant was used, and typically will need to upload receipts and financial statements.
The requirements for the Grant Report are different based on the type of grant. While some require receipts others require that you provide an annual financial statement. No matter what it is important to keep all receipts, invoices, copies of payment, etc. for any programs that received funding through an NFL Foundation grant.
As mentioned, many Grant Reports require that you submit proof of payment and receipts for items or services paid for by the grant. For example, if you are using some of the grant funding to buy new football jerseys, you will need to submit the invoice for the jerseys as part of the evaluation.
We review all receipts to ensure that the grant funds have been used in the way that the application says they will be. In addition, the information in the Grant Report must match the information on the receipts.
For example: If food for a youth football camp was bought from two different stores, the NFL Foundation needs to see both receipts. If the two receipts add up to $100.00 then in the evaluation the total amount spent on food must also add up to $100.
PLEASE NOTE: The NFL Foundation has independent auditors who may request copies of all invoices, receipts and financial statements so we ask that you hold on to them for at least one year after receiving the grant.
Every applicant receiving NFL Foundation Grant funds MUST log into the GAMS system and complete the online Grant Report. To access the GAMS Grant Report, log in to GAMS and find the Grant Report link on your dashboard.
USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, leads the game development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur football players.
An independent non-profit, USA Football was founded in 2002 by the National Football League and the NFL Players Association. USA Football hosts more than 80 football trainings annually, offering education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players and resources for youth football league administrators.
USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competitions and provides more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies. Carl Peterson, a successful football scout coach and NFL team executive for more than 40 years, serves as Chairman of USA Football. For more information, log onto www.usafootball.com
Thank you for your generosity and for thinking of our organization. Please use the “Contact Us” form on our website to send us a message. An NFL Foundation administrator will contact you about how to donate to the organization.
Please use the “Contact Us” system to submit your comments/questions to the NFL Foundation. We will respond to you as soon as possible.
Grant Application and GAMS Key Terms
A 501(c)(3) is an Internal Revenue Code section that describes charitable and/or educational organizations which are tax exempt, non-profit corporations or associations.
Note that "tax exempt" does not excuse an organization from maintaining proper records and filing any required annual or special-purpose tax returns. Previously, annual returns were not generally required from an exempt organization accruing less than $25,000 in gross income yearly. However, from 2008 onwards, many such organizations must file a yearly "e-Postcard" known as Form 990-N, or risk losing their exemption.
The NFL Foundation requires grant applicants to upload a copy of their organization’s 501(c)(3) determination letter in order to confirm that the organization has met the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt requirements set forth in the Internal Revenue Code’s section 501(c)(3).
A W-9 is an IRS form used by an organization, such as the NFL Foundation, to request your name and Social Security Number/Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). A completed W-9 must be submitted with a grant application in order to verify your organization’s TIN. You can download a blank W9 form here.
An accounting statement detailing financial data, including income from all sources, expenses, assets and liabilities. An audited financial statement provides verification of the financial statements of a legal entity by an independent third party in order to increase the value and credibility of the financial information produced by management.
IRS form filed by public charities that serves as an annual information return. It is useful for understanding some aspects of an organization’s mission, programs and finances.
Similar to the IRS Form 990 except it is filed by private foundations.
Contains the terms and conditions that the approved grant recipient organization must adhere to in order to carry out the objectives of the grant award and meet all funding requirements set forth by the NFL Foundation.