$450K in Funding was Granted to 31 Non-Profit Organizations to Provide Equitable Access to Sports
The PLAY Sports Coalition (PLAYS), a unique coalition of thousands of stakeholders across the national and community youth sports industry, announced today that the organization has successfully distributed previously unlocked state funding in Maryland and Massachusetts. This funding provided one-year grants to programs using sports as a tool for youth development in historically disadvantaged communities. Included amongst the programs receiving the grants is Girls on the Run of Montgomery County.
Girls on the Run of Montgomery County teaches critical life skills as the cornerstone of its research-based programs. Meeting in small teams, trained volunteer coaches inspire team members with and without disabilities to strengthen confidence and other important life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and physical activity. Girls on the Run inspires individuals of all abilities to recognize their unique strengths, while building a sense of connection in a team setting. Volunteer coaches facilitate lessons that blend physical activity with life skill development to enable team members to adapt to whatever comes their way. At the end of the season, the team completes a 5K together, which provides a tangible sense of accomplishment and sets a confident mindset into motion.
The PLAY Sports Coalition advocates for the support of youth development programs, young athletes, working families, coaches and volunteers across all 50 states, particularly those in under-resourced areas. Working directly with the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development, PLAYS created and facilitated grant programs for non-profit youth sports organizations. In total, it distributed $450,000 to more than 30 organizations to support their programs and activities, helping to cover program costs, sports gear, and the refurbishment or renovations of sports facilities.
PLAYS’ advocacy efforts were generously supported by individuals and firms with extensive government affairs experience, including Orrick, Boston | Plaut, and Lucey Strategies, in Maryland and Massachusetts, respectively. “Advocating for youth sports organizations has been the primary goal of the PLAY Sports Coalition since our inception,” said LeagueApps President and PLAYS board co-chair Jeremy Goldberg. “We know the youth sports sector is under-resourced, particularly given the magnitude of the impact of sports on children and communities. Our work with the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development to unlock grant funds for nonprofits focused on youth development through sports is one of the many ways we are putting words into action on behalf of all of our stakeholders.”
“While it is recognized that sports greatly benefit youth personal development, access to participate is increasingly challenging in underserved communities,” said Peter Frintzilas, member of the Board of Directors of PLAYS and CEO of TeamSnap. “It has been a privilege to work with the Maryland and Massachusetts State Governments to provide these organizations with much needed funding to continue supporting their communities and fostering our youth.” In Maryland, for 2023, the amount of funding in the grant program was $200,000 and was distributed to 14 organizations with one-time awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.
“Participating in sports is a valuable tool for the development of interpersonal skills, confidence, perseverance, and teamwork in our state’s youth. This grant program will give these nonprofit organizations the funding they need to further support their programs, giving deserving children the opportunity to play, learn and have fun on the field,” said Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone, Budget and Tax Committee Chair. “Volo Kids is working to use play to build communities of active, resilient, and confident kids,” said Volo Kids executive director Jen Rifkin. “Funding from the PLAY Sports Coalition will unlock our ability to expand our impact in recreation deserts across both Boston and Baltimore. Collectively, this funding will make it possible for us to expand community partnerships, purchase necessary program equipment and supplies, and enhance program outreach efforts to cater directly to each unique community that we serve. We are excited by the opportunity to continue to break down barriers so more kids have access to play and the benefits sports participation offers, both on and off the field!”
In Massachusetts, for 2023, the amount of funding in the grant program was $250,000 and was distributed to 17 organizations with one-time awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. “Funding from PLAYS will help us to eliminate many barriers that newcomer youth face every day to participate in sports,” said Bruno Contreras, Director at Soccer Without Borders Boston. “Our strategies include parent engagement, accessible locations, bilingual coaches, provided transportation, an earned equipment system, and most importantly, free access.”
“I was proud to advocate for this funding in the Legislature’s FY23 Budget and am thrilled that these youth organizations will be receiving these grants to support their important missions throughout Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts State Senator John Velis. “Participation in youth sports leads to improved outcomes in physical health, in mental well-being, and gives kids the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves. I can’t wait to see all these groups, including the Play Ball Foundation in my own district, put this funding to use to expand these opportunities to even more kids.”
While the grant programs in Maryland and Massachusetts were state-budget-appropriated, PLAYS has previously had success in unlocking proceeds from legal sports gambling to support youth sports nonprofit organizations. Since 2021, PLAYS has successfully advocated for an allocation of tax revenue from legalized sports betting legislation in multiple states to fund youth sports grants, including in New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts, unlocking millions of dollars for nonprofit programs.
Last month, PLAYS also worked with Congressmen Colin Allred (TX-32), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), to re-introduce the PLAYS in Youth Sports Act (HR 4599) which would create a $75 millionannual grant program to support non-profit organizations working to improve health and positive youth development through sports participation. The full list of grantees in Maryland can be found here:
- Baltimore SquashWise
- Beat the Streets Baltimore
- Girls in the Game
- Girls on the Run of Central Maryland, Inc.
- Girls on the Run of Montgomery County
- Girls on the Run of Greater Chesapeake
- Grow Home, Inc
- Harlem Lacrosse Baltimore
- KEEN Greater DC
- Netball America Inc.
- Soccer Without Borders
- Volo Kids Foundation Baltimore
Featured photo courtesy of Girls on The Run of Montgomery County
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