CHARLOTTE—Project L.I.F.T.'s West Charlotte High School will receive a new synthetic turf football field, thanks in part to a $200,000 grant from the Carolina Panthers through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program, according to a release from the Carolina Panthers.
The grant from the Panthers, the NFL Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) was given to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a part of $2.5 million in field refurbishment awards allocated this year nationwide.
"The Carolina Panthers are pleased to provide the NFL Grassroots field grant to West Charlotte High School in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Project L.I.F.T.," said Carolina Panthers president Danny Morrison. "Through its proud history, the school's football field has served as a heartbeat of West Charlotte for students, families and the broader community. From football glory to show stopping band performances, the field holds a special place in the history of West Charlotte High School.
"We are pleased that the new field will not only continue to benefit the school and help create new memories, but will be an asset that will also serve the community through new recreation opportunities."
The new synthetic field surface will allow West Charlotte High School to open the field to other key stakeholders in the community. The centerpiece of these partnerships is a joint use agreement with the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department, which currently operates the West Charlotte Recreation Center adjacent to the school's campus. The Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department will serve as the agent for scheduling external community usage.
The grant is the most recent in a series of NFL Grassroots field grants to benefit the region. The Carolina Panthers have supported similar projects most recently for Spartanburg (S.C.) School District VII and York (S.C.) School District 1.
The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program – a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, the nation's leading community development support organization – has supported the construction or renovation of 290 football fields nationwide since 1998.
During that time, the NFL Foundation has granted nearly $37 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. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.
LISC identifies local, nonprofit, community-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing football fields in schools and neighborhood parks. Through the program, local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their communities. The agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.
"These fields are useful in so many ways," said Michael Rubinger, LISC's president and CEO. "With them, local organizations can promote good physical fitness, teamwork and community spirit – all critical elements of neighborhood health. The NFL Foundation has been a great partner in creating these essential community assets."