The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields. The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program provides grants of up to $250,000 for capital improvement projects.
View the 2019 NFL Foundation Grassroots Program Request for Proposals (RFP) here.
Parks and ball fields can serve as tremendous community assets because they offer opportunities for recreation, education and relaxation that contribute to the local quality of life, especially for young people. Since 1998, the NFL Foundation Grassroots program has awarded more than $46 million in grants for more than 336 projects nationwide.
The NFL and LISC issue a Request for Proposals (RFP), or an open invitation to all qualified non-profit organizations in NFL markets to submit proposals for funding. LISC reviews the proposals, requests additional information where necessary, and makes site visits to the finalist organizations. Then LISC recommends to the NFL which organizations have the capacity, plans, and partners to renovate their local football fields and to attract increased youth football programming to the site. The NFL Foundation makes the final funding decisions.
Once the NFL chooses the award recipients, LISC works with local NFL teams and the award recipients to make press announcements and handle media events. LISC then manages the flow of funding, making sure that projects move forward on a timely schedule. The proposal and review processes are designed to make sure that the capital improvements to renovate older fields and establish new football fields will have a stream of maintenance funds and the community support needed to sustain the use of the fields over the long term.
In order to be eligible for a grant under the Program, projects must be sponsored by non-profit 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.
Strong preference will be given to those proposals that (1) 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 non-profit 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 in line with USA Football Heads Up Football safety initiatives. As noted above, grants are given only for capital expenditures. Applicants may request a maximum of $250,000 from the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program to be used for capital improvements. Please see “Availability of Funding” for stipulations involved with a $250,000 maximum grant request.
Proposals are due on August 31, 2019. Click here to download PDF - Please read the complete RFP before submitting a proposal.
Organizations and their projects will be selected for funding based upon the following criteria:
- Feasibility of the proposed project. The project budget must be based upon realistic costs, preferably written contractor’s estimates.
- 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.
- 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.
- Match funding. 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.
- 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.
- 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.