Operation New Hope has been granted $100,000 by the Jacksonville Jaguars through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program to install a new natural turf field and irrigation system at Kooker Park in Jacksonville's historic Springfield area.
"We are pleased to provide safe, accessible playing fields for youth and adults in Northeast Florida," said Peter Racine, Jacksonville Jaguars senior vice president - community impact. "This is the 13th field the NFL has supported with contributions totaling $1.3 million. Our goal is to construct ten additional football fields over the next three years."
The City of Jacksonville will offer a matching $100,000 to continue support of local youth sports in Jacksonville.
"This project presents a great opportunity for local youth to take advantage of our city's incredible park system," said Daryl Joseph, City of Jacksonville director of parks, recreation and community services. "The improvements made through this partnership and grant will offer Jacksonville youth a fun and safe place to enjoy sports and physical activities that promote health and well-being."
The grant from the Jaguars, the NFL Foundation, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is part of more than $3 million in field refurbishment awards allocated this year.
The NFL Foundation/LISC Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, the nation's leading community development support organization, has committed nearly $43 million to the program since 1998, supporting 322 projects nationwide. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements including irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.
LISC identifies local, nonprofit, community-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing football fields in schools and neighborhood parks. Through the program, local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their communities. The agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.
"The mission of LISC Jacksonville is to transform challenged urban neighborhoods into communities of opportunity – good places to live, work, do business and raise a family," said Janet Owens, executive director of LISC Jacksonville. "Recreation and health are critical components of a sustainable neighborhood. Our longstanding partnership with the Jacksonville Jaguars through this initiative is critical to our urban revitalization efforts."
In addition to the grant awarded by the NFL Foundation and LISC, ESPN is donating $25,000 to assist with the cost of related project amenities including a practice field area, benches, bleachers, concrete pads and walkways.