Jacksonville's Mary Lena Gibbs Park will get a new football field thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from the National Football League's Grassroots program. The public park, in the Hyde Park/Sweetwater neighborhood, currently has a gymnasium, restrooms, a community center and an open field area, but nothing as formally defined as a playing field. The grant, to be administered through the nonprofit Sweetwater Community and Athletic Association, will fund the resurfacing of that open area.
The field will be available to neighbors, nearby schools and various athletic leagues. The grant, announced today by the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars, is included in $1.5 million in new awards that the program is making to community groups for field rehabilitation in 11 cities.
Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars co-owner and Chair/CEO of the Jaguars Foundation said, "This partnership with the NFL, LISC, the Jaguars, and the Sweetwater Community and Athletic Association is a win for all of the children and families who will benefit from this community football field."
The NFL Grassroots Program is part of the NFL Youth Football Fund, a $150 million fund established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to support youth football initiatives in numerous ways. Since 1998, the program has provided $10 million in grants and helped community organizations rebuild 100 football fields in more than 40 depressed urban neighborhoods.
The Grassroots Program is a joint venture among the NFL, NFLPA and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country's leading community development support organization. The NFL, NFLPA and LISC identify local non-profit, neighborhood-based agencies in each city, which are provided with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of football fields in their local schools, parks and neighborhoods. The local groups then oversee the construction, maintenance, and programming of the fields.