Community organizations in Baltimore, Los Angeles and Philadelphia will receive grants totaling $330,000 from ESPN, Under Armour and LISC to help transform vacant lots into sports, recreation and play spaces.
The 12 awards are part of ESPN’s RePlay initiative, a collaboration with Under Armour and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the nation’s leading community development finance institutions.
RePlay seeks to help local organizations and residents plan and implement revitalization projects that transform vacant spaces into safe, quality places for youth and community. The grants will be awarded in $75,000, $25,000 and $10,000 increments to a total of 12 organizations. All are intended to help groups revitalize vacant spaces, which present great opportunities for access to safe, healthy recreation.
According to the Brookings Institution, in 60 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000, there are an average of two vacant buildings for every 1,000 residents.
“At ESPN, we’re committed to providing access to sports for all people, especially in underserved communities where places to play sports aren’t always available,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “RePlay aims to turn these vacant lots into play spaces that act as vibrant hubs at the heart of their communities. Together with Under Armour, LISC and local residents, we’re excited to transform these vacant properties into valuable community assets.”
LISC, which has nearly 40 years of experience working with community organizations, identified the projects through a formal application process and will provide technical assistance to local residents and community groups in the predevelopment and construction phases. ESPN and Under Armour are providing funding for the grants.
The $75,000 implementation grants are for:
- Telesis Baltimore Corporation, which is creating a recreation space on two vacant lots adjacent to the Greenmount Recreation Center. New spaces will include a rock climbing wall, a play lawn, a giant chessboard and smaller chess tables.
- City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore, which will transform a vacant house into a playground and community park. The Malone Children Memorial Playground will be dedicated to the memory of six children, two who were students at the school, who died in a fire.
- Kounkuey Design Initiative in Los Angeles, which will transform six city-owned vacant lots into play spaces.
The $25,000 implementation grant is for:
- One Day at a Time/Urban Affairs Coalition in Philadelphia, which will build an off-street bicycle riding track adjacent to the Winchester Recreation Center.
The $10,000 planning grants are for:
- ACHIEVEablility in Philadelphia, to transform a vacant space behind the New Market West building into a recreation/community space.
- HACE CDC in Philadelphia, to develop a walking/running track along the Conrail rail line in the Fairhill neighborhood.
- Make the World Better Foundation in Philadelphia, to revitalize an abandoned lot in South Philadelphia.
- New Kensington CDC in Philadelphia, to turn a vacant, 10,000-square-foot lot into a mini soccer pitch.
- Belmont Alliance CDC in Philadelphia, to revitalize two abandoned, vacant lots into community spaces for adults and children.
- Parks and People Foundation in Baltimore, to refurbish Gateway Park into a youth recreation space. The grant will be used for construction design and plan development.
- Reservoir Hill Improvement Council in Baltimore, to develop an open space and recreation plan for Reservoir Hill and Penn North, including a recreational trail linking the two communities.
- Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, to assist with community organizing and planning for the transformation of a vacant lot into a park that will provide access to sports, recreation and play for local residents.
LISC President and CEO Maurice A. Jones said the RePlay Program is an important part of LISC’s mission to revitalize communities. “Restoring vacant areas into safe, recreational sports and play spaces not only give youth a place to exercise and learn sports, they are also places that bring residents together and become a source of pride for the neighborhood,” he said. “Our partnership with ESPN and Under Armour gives us an opportunity to strengthen communities across the country.”
Partnering with ESPN and LISC for the RePlay Initiative is true to the spirit of Under Armour and its approach to reinvigorating the model of how companies and communities work together to create positive, lasting change.
“At Under Armour we believe innovation should be encouraged everywhere–including in our communities,” said Stacey Ullrich, Under Armour’s senior director of global philanthropy. “We’re thrilled to join forces with ESPN and LISC to award these grants to organizations that ignite innovation and bring the joy of sport and recreation to our communities. Because we all know that sport can inspire, unite and even change the world.”