Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2019

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program

By Chandler Garland

ESPN’s RePlay Program seeks to revitalize vacant public spaces and make them community-oriented places for sports, recreation and play. Many of these vacant spaces—lots, properties, etc.—adversely affect their surrounding communities in many interconnected ways. Notably, as public eyesores, they both lower the property values of the surrounding properties and erode social cohesion and neighborhood pride. Moreover, research shows that that vacant properties increase police drug and violence calls, which is not healthy for any neighborhood or community. But while vacant public spaces pose a problem for several communities across America, there is a great potential develop these areas and bring vitality back to their communities.

This is where RePlay come in. With support from ESPN in providing grants for planning and implementation, along with LISC’s technical assistance to local community-based groups and other qualified organizations, RePlay seeks to help residents reclaim their community spaces by creating courts, playgrounds and other safe places for youth to play and communities to thrive.

The Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), is a nonprofit community development organization supporting community development corporations in both urban and rural areas in the United States.

The focus of this program is low- to moderate-income neighborhoods that may not otherwise be able to repurpose their community spaces for great access to quality recreation. For communities in the program, LISC will identify projects and provide technical assistance to local residents and community groups, and assist them from the predevelopment and construction phases to project completion. However, because it is vital to community pride and cohesion for local residents to have a sense of ownership, collaboration with community nonprofits is vital to this program’s success.

Through RePlay, neighborhood organizations can play a leading role in revitalizing their surrounding communities. With experience in both real estate development and community building, many of these organizations possess the capacity to address both the capital aspects of land development and the program elements. Equally important, neighborhood-based organizations have connections to their community that legitimize their operations and draw resident support for their work.

To be eligible for the ESPN RePlay program, organizations applying for grant funds must meet all of the criteria listed below:

  • Be a community-based organization, serving a neighborhood consisting primarily of low- and moderate-income families and individuals.
  • Be in existence for at least three years.
  • Have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and have at least one full-time staff person. (All-volunteer organizations will not be considered unless partnering with a qualifying local nonprofit.)
  • Have a proven track record in real estate development and parks or youth programming.
  • To help your community make the most of its vacant spaces and provide safe places for youth sports, summer festivals, community celebrations and after-school events, apply for funding through ESPN’s Replay Program with all necessary documents by May 30, 2019.

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