This weekend’s NBA All-Star Game is a reminder of the transformational power of basketball, and the many ways that LISC promotes a game that can spark opportunity and help heal communities all across the country.
This Sunday, millions of eyes will be glued to the plays unfolding on a field in Miami as the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers battle it out for the Lombardy trophy. We'll be watching, too, and thinking about all the fields, and all the plays, that lead up to a game like Super Bowl LIV. For more than 20 years, LISC and the NFL Foundation have partnered to build or refurbish football fields in underinvested communities.
To fulfill our mission of catalyzing opportunity across the country, we are launching the LISC Rural Promise, a commitment to elevate our impact in rural America to 20 percent of our total over the next three years. The Rural Promise will build on 25 years of LISC's investment in and partnership-building with rural people and places. Now, we're taking it to the next level. We chose this week to launch our renewed effort in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose movement for civil rights and racial equity was rooted in rural America, where extraordinary talent, communities, businesses and natural resources are poised today to fuel a competitive national economy.
Grants totaling $3 million from the NFL Foundation and LISC’s Grassroots Field Grant Program will benefit 14 cities to build or refurbish neighborhood football fields. Since 1998, the program has provided nearly $61 million in support to create or refurbish 376 fields nationwide. This most recent round of funding will impact cities including Akron, Chicago, Flint and Tempe.
On a post-hurricane assessment visit to Puerto Rico, LISC Rural program officer Anna Hurt learned that baseball fields around the island are more than just a place for a game, they are a vital resource that brings the neighborhood together and boosts local economies. Damage to community fields is still deeply felt throughout the island. In this blog, Anna shares the value of bringing sports and recreation into the disaster recovery discussion and the launch of Play Ball Again, a new initiative to revive 25 fields for 17,500 boys and girls across Puerto Rico. Last week, LISC celebrated the opening of two such fields, with support from Maestro Cares Foundation, Good Bunny Foundation, UNICEF USA, and Chicago Cubs Charities, and showed how communities like the one where Ana lives come together for the love of the game, and one another.