The National Football League Foundation has approved a $45 million grant to USA Football to support the growth of youth football over the next five years.
Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football, accepted the grant this week from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Foundation chairman Charlotte Jones Anderson at the annual NFL owners meetings in Orlando.
USA Football, the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams, will use the grant to support youth and high school football through its Heads Up Football; NFL Punt, Pass & Kick; and NFL Flag programs.
The funds will help bring Heads Up Football to all 10,000 youth football leagues across the country. In the first year of Heads Up Football in 2013, more than 2,700 youth leagues registered for the program, representing approximately 600,000 players and 90,000 coaches. The NFL Foundation grant will expand Heads Up Football to the high school level, providing continuity in fundamentals, terminology, and health and safety protocols from the youth to the high school level. USA Football piloted Heads Up Football in 35 high schools in 10 states in 2013.
Additionally, USA Football will grow the NFL Flag and NFL Punt, Pass & Kick programs. NFL Flag powered by USA Football is the premier youth flag football league for boys and girls ages 5-17. A program of NFL Play 60, Flag provides young players with an opportunity to play non-contact football and learn lessons about sportsmanship and teamwork, while also getting their 60 minutes of daily physical activity. More than 220,000 boys and girls currently participate in NFL Flag. NFL Punt, Pass & Kick, which began in 1961, is the nation's largest grassroots sports skills competition.
"The NFL Foundation is committed to enhancing our great game at all levels," said Jones Anderson. "USA Football is a leader through its innovative work in youth and high school football development, and we are pleased to support their important work."
Heads Up Football is a comprehensive youth and high school football membership program developed by USA Football and supported by the NFL and more than two dozen medical, child advocacy and sport organizations. The initiative was launched in 2013 with a $1.5 million grant from the NFL Foundation. The core elements of the program are coaching certification, the teaching of proper techniques, player safety coaches, proper equipment fitting, concussion and health education, and parental involvement.
"The NFL Foundation's generous support of USA Football allows us to grow our programs and further establish important standards rooted in education for the well-being of our young athletes," said Hallenbeck. "We value this strong sign of trust in our nonprofit office. These funds will be put to use for the benefit of the more than 5.5 million youth and high school athletes who enjoy the fun and other benefits of playing football."
Spring is the start of Heads Up Football registration for the 2014 youth football season. To learn more, visit http://www.usafootball.com/headsup.
The NFL Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health and safety of athletes, youth football, and the communities which support the game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit: http://www.NFLFoundation.org.
Indianapolis-based USA Football is the sport's national governing body, leading the game's development for youth, high school and other amateur football players. The independent nonprofit works with medical organizations and football leaders for a better, safer game and is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NCAA's Atlantic Coast Conference. USA Football (www.usafootball.com), endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, is the sport's leader in coaching education and player skill advancement.