Cubs Charities, in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC Chicago), announced today the recipients of the Diamond Project grants, which are designated to improve the quality and safety of local baseball fields throughout the Chicago area.
"The Diamond Project is a great step forward in our mission to increase access to sports and improve health and fitness throughout Chicago," said Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts. "The Cubs Charities Diamond Project seeks to address the shortage of clean, safe and accessible baseball fields in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Our goal is to ensure all Chicago youth have the opportunity to develop and pursue their love of baseball."
With technical assistance from LISC Chicago, Cubs Charities has identified neighborhoods in need of new or improved baseball fields and facilities, each of which demonstrated a commitment to maintaining and using the space for youth safety and community programming. In addition to monetary support, the Wrigley Field grounds crew will advise Diamond Project grantees throughout the projects and provide maintenance assistance.
Through the Diamond Project, Cubs Charities is awarding more than $330,000 to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local baseball fields or indoor training facilities. The grantees for the 2014 Chicago Cubs Diamond Project are as follows:
- Academy for Urban School Leadership in 16 Chicago neighborhoods is receiving a grant for indoor training amenities such as pitching machines at five high schools and two 50-square-foot catching nets at 23 elementary schools.
- Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council is receiving a grant for general field and stadium support at two fields in Davis Square Park, including four sets of bleachers, scoreboards, pitching mounds and bases.
- Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park is receiving a grant for indoor training amenities, including retractable batting cages, a custom little league tarp system, two indoor pitcher's mounds, portable backstops, a pitching machine, and a hitter's template.
- Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in partnership with Wells Academy High School in West Town is receiving a grant to support the installation of a multi-purpose athletic field.
- Friends of Alcott in Lincoln Park is receiving a grant toward the development of a baseball field at Louisa May Alcott Elementary School.
- Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club in North Center is receiving a grant for indoor training amenities such as netting, tees, soft-toss pitching machines, mats, balls and pitchbacks.
- Perspectives Charter School in Auburn Gresham is receiving a grant for indoor training amenities including an indoor batting cage, two pitching machines, a pitcher's protective screen and an indoor practice mound.
- South Side Little League in Chatham is receiving a grant for general field and stadium support including benches, dugouts, resurfacing the infields and extending one field.
"A thriving community is a healthy community. By improving these fields and facilities today, we are making a huge investment in our neighborhoods for tomorrow. We are honored to partner with Cubs Charities and know these baseball fields and facilities are more than just places to practice," notes Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago's executive director. "Athletic fields serve as tremendous community assets offering opportunities for recreation, education, sportsmanship and relaxation. The Jackie Robinson West Little League team is a great example of the importance of baseball fields and the impact sports have - bringing positive change for youth, neighborhoods and the city of Chicago as a whole."
The goals of the Cubs Charities Diamond Project are to expand opportunities for children to play baseball year-round, create or preserve green space in underserved neighborhoods, and to foster a love of baseball. The Diamond Project is intended not only to respond to the immediate shortage of playing fields, but also to build an infrastructure through partnerships and resident involvement that will sustain these open spaces for community use while increasing the number of kids playing baseball throughout Chicago. To learn more about the Cubs Charities Diamond Project, visit http://www.cubs.com/diamondproject.
Cubs Charities Diamond Project grant recipients will be recognized at Wrigley Field during a pregame ceremony Thursday, September 18.
About Cubs Charities
Cubs Charities harnesses the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across the city and beyond. Cubs Charities' goal is to provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk. Through grants to quality nonprofit programs, development of parks and baseball fields, and other community initiatives, the Cubs and Cubs Charities help fulfill a commitment to be the best in the game, on and off the field. For more information visit www.cubscharities.org.
About LISC Chicago
LISC Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Part of the national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, LISC Chicago provides grants, loans, technical assistance and other resources to more than 70 partner organizations in low- and moderate-income communities across Chicago. When neighborhoods are connected to the right resources and work together to advance robust, coordinated community development plans, they are better positioned to participate in the region's economic growth. For more information visit lisc-chicago.org.