ESPN, Under Armour and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) announced today that four new communities will be eligible for grants through the RePlay initiative, which helps kids "play on" by transforming vacant lots into community spaces for sports and recreation.

  • As part of the program, ESPN and Under Armour will award grants to help community-based organizations revitalize vacant spaces in:
    • Newark, N.J.
    • Flint, Mich.
    • Milwaukee, Wisc.
    • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Organizations can apply for $10,000 planning grants and $75,000 implementation grants beginning today. The application deadline is April 30, 2021.
  • The grant program is particularly important this year given the impact of COVID-19.
  • According to the Aspen Institute, youth sports participation has declined by 6.5 hours per week since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Children in lower income households have been hit especially hard, spending two hours less on sports each week compared to kids in higher income families.
  • Even prior to the pandemic, youth ages 6-18 in low-income communities quit sports at six times the rate of kids from higher income areas.
  • Vacant neighborhood lots offer great opportunities to address these disparities and provide access to safe, healthy recreation spaces.
  • LISC, one of the nation's leading community development finance institutions, will identify projects for RePlay and assist residents and community groups with predevelopment and construction.
  • Last year, RePlay awarded grants to 13 projects in four cities, benefiting young people across these communities.
  • The program is in its third year, working to promote and ensure that sports and recreation are accessible to all who want to play.  
  • For 2021, RePlay has adopted the theme of "Play On," and will work to educate community organizations, funders, business leaders and policymakers about the importance of investing in sports and recreational space, even during the pandemic.

What they’re saying:

  • Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN corporate citizenship: "The pandemic has only exacerbated the already existing problem of declining participation in youth sports. ESPN is proud to team up with Under Armour and LISC to enable easier access to sports for underserved youth, because if they have a safe place to play, kids have more opportunities to take advantage of sports' many benefits."
  • Stacey Ullrich, head of Global Community Impact, Under Armour: "Investing in spaces and people that make equitable access and opportunity to participate in sport and activity possible is at the core of Under Armour's mission. We are honored for the opportunity to join ESPN and LISC for a third year to extend the reach and impact of RePlay with the goal of increasing neighborhood access for more young people to have safe and inspiring places to play."
  • Beverly Smith, LISC's Vice President for Sports & Recreation: "We have a long history of working with community organizations to make their neighborhoods better and stronger. RePlay is a textbook example of how we do it. Our on-the-ground experience in local communities coupled with the resources and expertise of ESPN and Under Armour has been a highly successful formula for creating useful recreational spaces."