ESPN And Under Armour Funding Effort to Transform Vacant Spaces into Play Spaces

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ESPN and Under Armour, in conjunction with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), will be working with four new communities that are eligible for grants through the RePlay initiative, which helps kids “play on” by transforming vacant lots into community spaces for sports and recreation.

As part of the program, ESPN and Under Armour will award grants to help community-based organizations revitalize vacant spaces in Newark, NJ; Flint, MI; Milwaukee, WI; and Cincinnati, OH. Organizations can apply for $10,000 planning grants and $75,000 implementation grants through April 30, 2021.

The grant program is particularly important this year given the impact of COVID-19. According to the Aspen Institute, youth sports participation has declined by 6.5 hours per week since the beginning of the pandemic. Children in lower income households have been hit especially hard, spending two hours less on sports each week compared to kids in higher income families.

Vacant neighborhood lots offer great opportunities to address these disparities and provide access to safe, healthy recreation spaces. LISC, one of the nation’s leading community development finance institutions, will identify projects for RePlay and assist residents and community groups with predevelopment and construction.

Last year, RePlay awarded grants to 13 projects in four cities, benefiting young people across these communities. The program is in its third year, working to promote and ensure that sports and recreation are accessible to all who want to play.  

For 2021, RePlay has adopted the theme of “Play On,” and will work to educate community organizations, funders, business leaders and policymakers about the importance of investing in sports and recreational space, even during the pandemic.

“Investing in spaces and people that make equitable access and opportunity to participate in sport and activity possible is at the core of Under Armour’s mission,” says Stacey Ullrich, head of Global Community Impact. “We are honored for the opportunity to join ESPN and LISC for a third year to extend the reach and impact of RePlay with the goal of increasing neighborhood access for more young people to have safe and inspiring places to play.”

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