The Long Island City Bulldogs learned that folks out there care about them as they received dollars to keep their neighborhood programs alive. (37545)

The New York Jets, National Football League (NFL) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) New York City donated $350,000 in grants to the New York City Department of Education and Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) football programs. Jets players Antonio Allen, Leger Douzable, Darrin Walls and Muhammad Wilkerson presented the grants at Long Island City High School to members of the Long Island City, Frederick Douglass Academy and Eagle Academy for Young Men II high school football teams.

As part of the Jets’ Heads Up! program, the Jets and NFL Foundation made a $150,000 grant to create two new football teams at Frederick Douglass Academy and Eagle Academy for Young Men II high schools. In addition, the grant will help recondition every helmet in the PSAL, continue the first-ever PSAL Girls Varsity Flag Football League and support the CHAMPS middle school flag football program. Long Island City High School will receive a $200,000 field surface grant from the NFL Foundation’s Grassroots program to help install a new synthetic playing field at the school. The grant, awarded by the Jets, the NFL Foundation and LISC NYC, is part of $2.5 million in field grant awards allocated this year.

The NFL Grassroots program, a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, the nation’s leading community development support corporation, has resulted in the construction or renovation of 270 football fields nationwide. Since 1998, the NFL Foundation has granted over $34 million to revitalize playing fields in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and grass or synthetic playing surfaces. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.

LISC identifies local, nonprofit, neighborhood-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing football fields in schools and parks in underserved neighborhoods. Through the program, the local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their neighborhoods. The local agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.

“We are proud to continue our commitment to youth football in New York City,” said Jets Community Relations Director Jesse Linder. “These grants will enable thousands of young athletes at all levels to participate in and enjoy our great game. We hope our players here today inspire all involved in these programs.”

“We are thrilled with the generosity of the NFL and Jets to help refurbish the Long Island City High School athletic field,” said Eric Goldstein, chief executive of school support services, which include the PSAL. “We have a long-standing partnership with the Jets that has helped to continue our strong, competitive sports program for New York City public school students.”

“This grant continues LISC’s long-standing commitment of providing communities in need [with] refurbished facilities to afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and athletics. We know that there is a direct correlation between the health and vitality of neighborhoods and the ability of the young people in these areas to be able to participate and compete in sports in safe, well-maintained environments,” said Colleen Flynn, LISC NYC’s green and healthy neighborhoods coordinator.

More than 30,000 student-athletes, both boys and girls, participate in the PSAL, with many playing multiple sports. In addition, more than 200 high schools participate, competing in 28 varsity sports and nine junior varsity sports, represented by more than 2,400 teams.

In 2001, the New York Jets formed a community partnership with the PSAL to provide support to New York City public school football programs. The Jets and the PSAL expanded this partnership in 2005 and titled it Heads Up! Through an annual matching grant from the NFL’s Youth Football Fund, the New York Jets support the PSAL’s football programs. This grant has helped to recondition every helmet in the PSAL and create 13 new and developmental football teams along with the first-ever Girls Varsity Flag Football league.

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