Saturday, July 26, 2008

“Falcons Fit & Green” Initiative

The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (the
foundations), in partnership with Safeplay Systems and Nike, are leading a $600,000 “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative, which will support development of up to 10 green playgrounds in Metro Atlanta in 2009.

The “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative advances the values of the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, which works to improve youth fitness across Georgia, and the values of the Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, through his family foundation’s Inspiring Spaces program, which works to promote green practices and to increase access to great public spaces. Learn more about the work of the foundations through their 2007 online annual report.

Nike is participating through its Let Me Play campaign, which gives excluded youth around the world a chance to play. As a partner in this effort, Nike will donate shoes and sports equipment to all of the “Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients. Through its Reuse-A-Shoe program, Nike’s Let Me Play campaign collects and recycles worn out sneakers. The recycled material – Nike Grind – is used to produce rubber and foam surfaces suited to playgrounds and running tracks.

Nike will contribute towards a recycled, rubber safety surface to a select number of “Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients – determined through the competitive grant application process – enabling these organizations to devote all of the grant funds to the playground equipment itself. Safeplay Systems, a Marietta, Ga., based company, will employ its EcoPlay® technology to construct the green playgrounds. EcoPlay® equipment is manufactured from post-consumer recycled plastic milk jugs. Not only is EcoPlay® a recycled product, it is also recyclable, making it a “sustainable” product. All EcoPlay® playground structures are PVC-Free and Fiberglass-Free.

“Falcons Fit & Green” Financial Model

The foundations are seeking grant applicants for green playgrounds in Metro Atlanta
communities. The “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative expects to fund up to 10 green playgrounds.
See Appendix 1 for a list of the 28 Metro Atlanta counties.

The foundations will invest up to $300,000 in grants for playgrounds. Nike will contribute up to $100,000 in shoes and playground equipment and grants to install their Nike Grind surface. Safeplay Systems will contribute up to $50,000 to provide playground equipment and installation.

The maximum grant award from the foundations will be $30,000. The initiative requires
applicants to contribute $15,000 in matching funds. Safeplay Systems will donate $5,000 in equipment or services. Nike will donate $1,000 worth of shoes and sports equipment to each grant recipient. With this funding model, grant recipients will be able to construct playgrounds valued at $51,000 (this includes playground equipment, installation, borders and mulch).

A typical project budget would be:

AFYF/AMBFF grant $30,000
Grantee matching funds $15,000 (Note 1; Note 2)
Nike sports equipment $1,000
Safeplay contribution $5,000
Total $51,000

Based on the competitive application process, a select number of grant recipients (up to 10) will be awarded a grant from Nike to install a Nike Grind surface. This will enable organizations to devote more of its foundation grant award to playground equipment, thereby acquiring a playground valued at more than $50,000.

Through its Let Me Play campaign, Nike will make grant awards directly to a select number of “Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients to cover costs of materials and installation of a recycled rubber safety surface (instead of the standard mulch), using vendors authorized by Nike. These grant recipients will work directly with Safeplay Systems to determine final budget allocations for playground equipment and pay Nike’s vendors directly.

Note 1: Applicants may elect to contribute a greater amount if they choose to upgrade
their playground build.

Note 2: In addition to contributing the $15,000 in matching grant funds, as required,
applicants may choose to free up additional funds for playground equipment (as opposed to installation) by recruiting community volunteers to assist with the playground build. Applicants electing to organize a Volunteer Day will free up funds needed to erect a playground valued at more than $50,000. The grant applicants will negotiate final terms directly with Safeplay Systems. The Atlanta Falcons will work to organize cheerleader or player visits to each Volunteer Day.

“Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients will have flexibility in choosing EcoPlay® playground models and specific playground features. An example of a playground design valued at $50,000 (including equipment, installation, borders and mulch) is attached. This is an example and does not represent the only option or arrangement.

(Above is an example of an EcoPlay® playground. Playground equipment can be developed based on grantee specifications.)

Typical playgrounds will require a space of 2,500 square feet (or 50 feet by 50 feet). With their $50,000 budgets, “Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients will negotiate with Safeplay Systems for the specific playground equipment and features. (To view equipment options, visit and click the 2008 Online Catalog button.)

Grant recipients receiving additional awards from Nike, for the recycled Nike Grind surfaces, will work directly with Nike’s vendors on the surface installation and will work directly with Safeplay Systems to configure final project budgets to optimize playground equipment and features.

Foundation staff will review all applications. With input from outside experts, foundation staff will select up to 10 organizations to receive grants through the “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative (see the attached timeline for details of the grant process).

Completed playgrounds will carry Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and/or Falcons brand marks, as well as signage that: (1) memorializes the number of recycled milk jugs used to build the playground and the number of recycled shoes used to create the Nike Grind surface; and (2) that recognizes efforts from the grant recipient, and other local partners, AFYF, the Atlanta Falcons, AMBFF and, when appropriate, Nike’s Let Me Play campaign.

Grant recipients will work with the foundations to coordinate media and communications plans to promote the playground builds.

Values – The “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative is about more than equipment. The foundations expect winning grant proposals to establish children’s play areas within compelling outdoor spaces that draw families and engage broad segments of the population year-round.

The “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative is one of a number of efforts around the country designed to establish spaces that foster authentic play among kids, promote spontaneity in children’s activities and are used by broad segments of the community.

Site Selection – “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds may be located within state or local parks, on school or university campuses, within community gardens, at community centers or recreation centers, at facilities run by youth-serving nonprofit organizations, within neighborhood green spaces, proximate to public trails or paths, or in other settings.

Because the physical locations where “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds could be built may be owned by local or state government agencies or even private developers, the initiative expects the strongest applications to demonstrate partnerships with all of the appropriate nonprofit organizations, government agencies and businesses.

The applicant organization must be a public charity with a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS or a unit of government.

Preference will be given to applications demonstrating:

• the greatest access and uses by a broad segment of the population, as opposed to projects that propose to limit access to children served by a single organization during certain hours;
• new, creative ways for “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds to enhance usage and
accessibility of existing outdoor spaces;
• creative ways to sustain community engagement on the issue of outdoor play and on the issue of kids’ involvement in recycling and other green practices.
The initiative is open to:
• applications that seek to use “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds to launch or bolster any local or statewide campaigns designed to get more kids and families active in outdoor spaces;
• new playgrounds, as well as renovations or upgrades made to existing outdoor facilities;
• joint applications, where two or more nonprofits come together to request combined
funds for integrating two playgrounds. Joint proposals must demonstrate the potential for increased impact.

Metrics for success include increased number of children (and families) spending more time in outdoor play areas as well as an increased number of children (and families) participating in recycling and other green practices.

In particular, the initiative uses the collection and recycling of used milk jugs and worn out sneakers as real and symbolic ways to spur activism among kids and the broader community (see the attached “Falcons Fit & Green” grant application form for specific questions and reporting requirements, or go to and click on “Falcons Fit & Green” for more information).

In the AFYF staff review of applications, proposals with the most creative and effective approach for involving kids in recycling efforts will be considered for the Nike Grind donated surface.

Nike expects to donate shoes and sports equipment to all “Falcons Fit & Green” grant award recipients, even those sites not receiving a donated Nike Grind surface.

Finally, the “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative seeks to harvest and promote innovation beyond the selected grant award recipients. AFYF will harvest stories and ideas from across all of the grant applicants and promote the most interesting innovations via AFYF web sites and other PR mechanisms.

“Falcons Fit & Green” Timeline
• Thursday, July 17, 2008 – AFYF and AMBFF release RFP for “Falcons Fit & Green”
initiative and begin accepting applications.
• Tuesday, August 5, 2008 – AFYF and AMBFF host workshop for organizations
interested in applying for grants. Interested organizations should RSVP by noon on
Friday, August 1, 2008, to The August 5 workshop will run
from 9 a.m. to Noon and be held at The Arthur M. Blank Family Office, 3223 Howell
Mill Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327.
• Wednesday, October 15, 2008 – AFYF and AMBFF must receive completed
applications (including demonstration of $15,000 matching requirement) for the “Falcons Fit & Green” by Noon on Wednesday, October 15, 2008.
• Wednesday, October 15, 2008 – Monday, December 1, 2008 – Foundation staff review
grant proposals and select grant award recipients.
• Tuesday, December 2, 2008 – Announcement of up to 10 “Falcons Fit & Green” grant recipients. The announcement may take place in conjunction with an Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Speaker Series event scheduled for December 2, 2008, featuring Dr. William McDonough, a leader in the sustainability movement whom Time magazine called in 1999 “Hero for the Planet”. One or more winners for the Nike Grind surface will be announced at this time also.
• Wednesday, December 3, 2008 – Wednesday, January 14, 2008 – Grant recipients
determine their specific playground designs and features – including budgets – with
Safeplay Systems and, when appropriate, Nike and Nike Grind vendors.
• Thursday, January 15, 2008 – Grant recipients submit their final playground designs, approved by Safeplay, to the foundations and pay Safeplay $15,000 in matching funds.
• February 2009 – $30,000 AFYF/AMBFF grant awards delivered to up to 10 grant
• February – March 2009 – Schedule Volunteer Days during this period.
• April 1, 2009 – Target completion date for 10 new “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds.
• April 22, 2009 – Dedication for 10 new “Falcons Fit & Green” playgrounds on Earth Day.

Appendix 1
28-County Metro Atlanta Region
• Barrow
• Bartow
• Butts
• Carroll
• Cherokee
• Clayton
• Cobb
• Coweta
• Dawson
• DeKalb
• Douglas
• Fayette
• Forsyth
• Fulton
• Gwinnett
• Haralson
• Heard
• Henry
• Jasper
• Lamar
• Meriwether
• Newton
• Paulding
• Pickens
• Pike
• Rockdale
• Spalding
• Walton

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