Bengals help upgrade facility at Midway School

Students, parents, and staff from Cincinnati Public Schools' Midway School joined Cincinnati Bengals executives and players Tuesday to break ground on the district's $200,000 renovation of the school's multi-purpose field.

Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president, and Bob Bedinghaus, Bengals director of business development, along with Bengals players Andre Smith and Roddrick Muckelroy  were on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking. The Bengals, the NFL Youth Football Fund, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) provided the district with a $100,000 grant for the project, which will remediate the site and install a natural-turf field. Cincinnati Public Schools is providing matching funds of $100,000.

"We are excited to once again partner with the Cincinnati Public Schools on another NFL Grassroots project," Blackburn said. "With this project we will bring the total amount dedicated to the Greater Cincinnati region to just shy of $1 million."

Although Midway School in Westwood was rebuilt in 2005, the field behind the school was unsafe with debris and roots posing hazards for students. The renovation will allow the school's football team, gym classes and after-school activities access to a safe surface with reduced risk of injury that encourages physical activity. It will also provide a first-rate field for the area's many community football and soccer teams to hold practices and games.

The grant, the eighth awarded to a Greater Cincinnati community, is part of more than $2.5 million in field refurbishment awards allocated to community groups this year in 16 cities nationwide. A total of $950,000 has been awarded toward field projects in Avondale, Evanston, North Fairmount, Covington, Lockland, Wilmington, Green Township and now Westwood.

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. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.

The program is now accepting applications for its next round of grants. Applications must be submitted from schools or non-profit community-based organizations that need financial and technical assistance to upgrade the quality, safety and accessibility of local football fields. The schools and organizations must be in NFL markets and serve low- or moderate-income areas in those markets. Applications are due December 15, 2010. For more information click here.

ABOUT THE NFL GRASSROOTS PROGRAM
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.

ABOUT THE NFL YOUTH FOOTBALL FUND
Established in 1998 by the NFL in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, the NFL Youth Football Fund promotes positive youth development, while ensuring the health and future of football at the grassroots level. Through funding by the YFF, many NFL youth programs such as NFLHS.com and Coach of the Week have been developed, providing youngsters with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors.

ABOUT LISC
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised more than $6 billion to build or rehab nearly 160,000 affordable homes and develop 25 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. For more information, visit lisc.org.

ABOUT CINCINNATI PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) – a district of 57 schools serving a diverse population of more than 34,000 students in grades preschool to 12 – prepares students for life through rigorous academic programs, numerous enrichment opportunities and strong community partnerships. The district moved up into the Effective rating on the 2009-10 Ohio Report Card — the only urban district in Ohio to earn this high of a rating. In addition, CPS' graduation rate has increased from just over 60 percent to 80 percent since 2002. Three of its high schools – Walnut Hills High School, Withrow University High School and Clark Montessori High School – are ranked among the top 1,000 public high schools in the United States, according to national magazines. CPS is in year eight of a 10-year, $1-billion Facilities Master Plan that will provide new or fully renovated buildings for all CPS students. To learn more about Cincinnati Public Schools, visit cps-k12.org

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