Heisman Trophy Fund awards $1.2 Million to NYC and Long Island nonprofits

Funding will go to providers enhancing youth sports and academics across New York and New Jersey

Close up of the Heisman Trophy

Close up of the Heisman Trophy (Taylor Ballantyne / Contributor)

Nearly 5,000 youth across the New York area will receive greater support in classrooms and playing fields through the Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development. 

Among the grants, announced this month, many will go towards enhancing dual academic and sports programs across the tri-state area. Funding will also be directed towards traditional sports programs. 

“These grants represent a meaningful step toward equalizing the playing field through greater access and exposure to sports in underserved communities,” said Roderick Jenkins, who oversees The New York Community Trust’s youth development grantmaking. “The lessons learned on the field: discipline, focus, teamwork, and leadership will benefit these kids off the field and throughout their lives.”

Awarding more than $1.2 million in grants to nonprofits, the Heisman Fund for Youth Development was launched in 2017 by The Heisman Trophy Trust in partnership with The New York Community Trust, New York’s largest community foundation. This year’s funding aims to connect students living in underserved communities with programs aimed at promoting academic achievement and access to sports.

“We’re thrilled to extend the Heisman Trophy’s spirit of excellence in ways that will help thousands of youth benefit from the transformative power of sports and teamwork to help them build skills in the classroom and on the field, improve their confidence, and establish meaningful relationships,” said Michael Comerford, president of the Heisman Trophy Trust. 

The New York Community Trust manages the fund, which includes issuing requests for grant proposals, vetting and selecting nonprofit recipients and evaluating program success. This year’s grantees include a diverse array of youth development programs across the region, including basketball, figure skating, lacrosse, and sports activities for all students, including those with disabilities.

The list of award recipients this year includes AthLife Foundation, to support academic coaches for athletes in 13 public high schools; Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens, to run academic and sports programs for high school students in Queens; Boys and Girls Club of Newark, to run sports and academic programs for young people; Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester, to run fitness and nutrition programming and educational enrichment; Bronx Lacrosse, to expand a lacrosse and academic program in the South Bronx; East Harlem Tutorial Program, to extend a running program for young people in East Harlem; Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk [County], to assist in expanding an academic and soccer program for students at Bellport, Saxton and South Ocean Middle Schools; Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, to fund an academic and lacrosse program for high school students; Hit the Books, o aid in expanding an academic and mixed martial arts after-school program in Harlem; Inspirational Triathlon Racing International, to support a triathlon training program for girls; King Kids United, to promote an academic and sports program for high school students; Madison Square Boys and Girls Foundation, to continue a sports and academic program for middle school students in the Bronx; New York Mission Society, to enhance four academic after-school programs for elementary school children in the Bronx; Peace Players International, to expand a year-round basketball and leadership program for teenagers in Brooklyn; Playworks Education Energized, to expand a year-round basketball and leadership program for teenagers in Brooklyn; Riverside Hawks, Hope, Health, and Hoops Corporation, to develop a year-round basketball and academic program; Rocking the Boat, to support a sailing program for Bronx young people; 

Special Olympics, to expand sports activities for public school students with physical, emotional, or intellectual disabilities; Sports Empowerment Leadership Academ, to create a STEM and sports program for Roosevelt High School students; Steer for Student Athletes, to fund an academic support program for student athletes in Westchester County; Team First, to increase a school-based academic and sports program for elementary school students in the South Bronx.

In addition to supporting providers in New York City, Long Island and Newark, New Jersey, The Fund will provide more than $800,000 in additional grants to nonprofits operating sports and academic programs in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles.