As field managers, your expertise is responsible for allowing athletes the opportunity to run, dive and play on safe fields. For many small-town baseball leagues, inner-city sports parks and ball fields around the country, the funds to support proper maintenance simply aren’t available, forcing kids to play on potentially hazardous fields, if they get to play at all.
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations donating their time and resources to ensuring kids across the country have safe fields to play on. As professionals with a specialized set of skills, I would encourage you all to lend a hand where you can. Your knowledge and a small amount of your time could go a long way toward creating safer spaces for kids.
Here’s a look at what some national organizations are doing to help.
Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation
Developed with a mission of helping disadvantaged young people learn life skills and build character through baseball and softball programs, The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation partners with communities across the country to design and facilitate the creation of Youth Development Parks. The multipurpose synthetic fields are designed with the goal of providing safe recreational areas for kids in at-risk communities. Once the park is complete, it is gifted to a local youth organization or league partner.
The foundation recently celebrated the completion of it 25th field, which was built in Aberdeen, Maryland. The organization’s goal is to build 50 parks in five years.
Baseball Tomorrow Fund
A joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awards grants to organizations involved in the operation of youth baseball and softball facilities. On average, the fund awards 45 grants a year, totaling more than $1.5 million. One recent grant allowed the Staten Island Little League to reopen its field complex a year and a half after being destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
In 2005 the fund established Equipment Day, which encourages fans, front office staff and players to bring new and used equipment to MLB stadiums to be donated to local organizations.
NFL Foundation Grassroots Program
The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program provides nonprofits with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of neighborhood football fields. Since its inception in 1998, the program has awarded over $35 million in grants to fund 273 field projects in 70 cities nationwide.
The grants awarded this year included a $100,000 grant to fund the complete renovation of the Arizona Lutheran Academy football field including new irrigation and turfgrass.