By Malaika Bobino
Grants For Local Youth Field Refurbishments
Over the last 10 months, The Oakland Raiders have been involved with the award of $140,000 in grants toward youth field refurbishments in the East Bay. Willie Wilkins Park and Ernie Raimondi Field in Oakland as well as San Leandro’s Burrell Field are benefitting from the Silver and Black’s community involvement.
“It is our great pleasure to provide this assistance to the parks utilized by children and others in our communities,” said Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask.
The official groundbreaking ceremony for the initial phase of upgrades at Willie Wilkins Park took place in January at the park which is located in Oakland’s Elmhurst neighborhood. The park is receiving improvements thanks in part to a $40,000 Youth Fitness Zone Program Grant from The Oakland Raiders and NFL Charities. The Youth Fitness Zone Grant, awarded by the Oakland Raiders and NFL Charities, is part of the NFL’s commitment to health
The first phase of the Willie Wilkins Park improvements is providing new play equipment for a 2-5 year old tot lot, with new accessible pathways, safety surfaces, and site amenities. The second phase of the project includes a larger tot lot for older children, ages 5-12, additional site furniture, restroom and other improvements to pathways within the park. The Willie Wilkins Park area has been identified by the city of Oakland’s General Plan Open Space Conservation
and Recreation (OSCAR) element as an underserved area for open space and recreational opportunities. The communities surrounding the park have been longing for renovation to their park and specifically improving amenities for children’s use. By improving the playground, the neighborhood children benefit from added recreational opportunities that will promote physical and social well-being as well as build a stronger community as a result.
Last June, the football field at Oakland’s Ernie Raimondi Field got new bleachers thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the NFL Grassroots Program. The grant, awarded by the Oakland Raiders, the NFL Youth Football Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), was part of $5.43 million in field refurbishment awards allocated to community groups in areas surrounding the 32 NFL markets.
The Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation is as an advocate for Oakland’s parks and recreation services and facilities. Ernie Raimondi Field is undergoing a two-phase renovation, including a multi-purpose synthetic turf field, a new playground, site lighting, and American Disabilities Act upgrades. The Grassroots grant is being used to install four additional bleachers for the new field to accommodate players and spectators. NFL Grassroots funds is being matched with more than $1 million in donations from various foundations and private contributors. The football field at San Leandro High School’s Burrell Field is receiving new lights thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the NFL Grassroots Program.
The San Leandro Unified School District consists of 12 schools serving approximately 8,900 students in grades K- 12. Upgrades to the lighting system at Burrell Field, which includes insulation to prevent outages caused by exposure to the elements, benefits not only the students at San Leandro High School, but the members of the San Leandro Youth Football and Cheerleading League and the community at large. The Grassroots grant is being matched by funds from San Leandro Unified School District.
The NFL Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Youth Football Fund and LISC, the nation’s leading community development support corporation, has resulted in the construction or renovation of 170 football fields nationwide in the past decade. In the last 10 years, the NFL Youth Football Fund has granted over $20 million to revitalize playing fields in underserved neighborhoods. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf.
In addition, the Raiders have been involved with California State Parks and the California State Parks Foundation for the past two years promoting outdoor recreation and youth fitness. The Raiders’ unique relationship with California State Parks and The California State Parks Foundation involves teaming up to help families and children connect with their natural environment. The Raiders and California State parks have and will continue to join in
events throughout the state to promote outdoor recreation and physical fitness.
The Raiders’ ever expanding programs associated with the organization’s commitment to youth and family initiatives are listed on the team’s website under Raidersforkids.com. Programs for youngsters administered by the Raiders include:
• The Raider Rookie Zone: The interactive area for kids at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, where young fans are able to participate in a variety of family focused activities during the season beginning two hours before kickoff. Kids of all ages can jump in a Raider inflatable bounce house, throw a touchdown pass or kick a field goal, or solve puzzles and color while sitting at child-sized picnic tables. Community sponsors of the Raider Rookie Zone include Chabot Space & Science Center, The Oakland Museum of California, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, and The Oakland Zoo. These community sponsors are present throughout the Raider Rookie Zone and each offers a unique learning experience to young fans.
• Raidersforkids.com: The site contains many exciting activities for youngsters including a trivia challenge, tackle geography and coloring pages.
• Youth Skills Camp: The camp is designed to encourage boys and girls, ages 8-14, to participate in and enjoy the game of football. The camp is organized and structured to provide every participant, regardless of skill level, with the same top-notch instruction by Raiders players and coaches, along with Bay Area high school and college coaches.
• Punt, Pass & Kick Program: The program has given many current NFL stars a beginning to their football careers. With more than four million girls and boys from around the country taking part in the competition every year from July through January, it is one of the world’s largest youth sports participation programs. Girls and boys, ages 8-15, compete against each other in punting, passing and place kicking in four separate age divisions (8-9, 10-11, 12-13, and 14-15).
• Flag Football: The National Football League has official youth leagues for kids 6-14 years old. This program gives boys and girls the opportunity to play in an organized non-contact football league and the chance to compete in the NFL FLAG Regional Tournaments around the country in October. Winners from the tournaments advance to the NFL FLAG National Tournament of Champions at DISNEY’S WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS ® Complex in November.
• The Junior Raiderettes: The program is open to young people of all ability levels, between the ages of 7 – 15, and provides fun and motivational challenges where youngsters can strengthen their talents, abilities and confidence in a non-competitive environment.
• High School Coach of the Week: The Oakland Raiders High School “Coach of the Week” program promotes high school football by giving high school coaches and teams the recognition that they deserve. Designed to honor coaches who have created successful programs for teams and players, both on and off of the playing field, the “Coach of the Week” program provides teams with financial assistance to maintain their football programs. During each week of the high school season, The Oakland Raiders select one high school coach as the “Coach of the Week” winner, and a High School Coach of the Year at the end of the season.
• Gatorade Junior Training Camp Program: The program is available to elementary schools, recreation centers, and other non-profit organizations for clinics. A Junior Training Camp features the educational and recreational benefits of football presented in a safe and fun environment. The camp’s curriculum is very safe, and was developed by Gatorade so that any student can participate – regardless of age, gender,
ability, or experience.
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