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Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development

Call for Letters of Interest

Letters of Inquiry (LOI) Must Be Received On or Before April 25, 2017

Education-focused programs help young people build academic skills. But they are not for everyone, particularly students with weak attachments to school and those who want to socialize with their friends during non-school hours. Young people need options.

Organizations in the City that combine sports and academics help young people learn respect, compromise, and persistence, as well as how to play on a team and handle losing. These free community programs attract young people who often shy away from academic programs, and offer low-income youngsters the opportunity to engage in sports that otherwise might be beyond their reach. But many of these organizations face a number of common challenges: a dearth of trained staff, lack of organizational management skills, and limited resources. Strengthening the capacity of these organizations will result in more effective services for underprivileged youngsters who engage in a range of academic and youth development programs in order to play sports.

The Heisman Trophy Trust has always supported amateur athletics to provide greater opportunities for young people to learn valuable life skills such as diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Building on this work, in 2017, the Heisman Trophy Trust established the Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development (The Fund) at the New York Community Trust (The Trust). Established in 1924, The Trust is one of the largest community foundations in the United States. More information about The Trust is available at
The purpose of the Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development is to support New York City charitable organizations that use sports to engage underprivileged young people, ages 8 to 18, in educational activities. The Fund seeks to make sports programs that offer educational services—while also helping young people learn teamwork, good sportsmanship, and the pursuit of excellence with integrity—widely available to disadvantaged young people, regardless of athletic ability.

I. Request for Letters of Interest (LOIs)

The New York Community Trust is pleased to invite LOIs to the Fund for education-focused youth sports projects that have potential to be provided at scale—i.e., substantial numbers of underprivileged young people and/or five or more public school campuses. We anticipate making up to 40 grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000. The review and selection of proposals invited through the LOI process will be competitive and guided by an advisory committee.

Preference will be given to projects in one of three categories:

  1. expand successful education-focused youth sports programs to serve more underprivileged young people; 
  2. improve the quality and effectiveness of existing programs to better support disadvantaged youth; and
  3. coordinate partnerships among nonprofits and schools.

II. LOI Submission Requirements and Procedures

Applicants must be New York City based, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. Unincorporated organizations may apply using a fiscal sponsor. Applicants must also meet the governance and financial standards of the Better Business Bureau, including a board of directors with at least five members, no more than one of whom is paid. We encourage small community organizations to apply.

An organization may submit only one letter of interest for a single project. We will not make grants for programs that are selective or designed to recruit promising athletes, offer only homework help, or for capital projects, or general operating support. In addition, grants will not support programs that work with charter or private schools.

Letters of interest may not exceed four pages, single-spaced and using 12-pt. font, and should include a concise description of:

  1. the organization(s) involved, including the EIN number of the applicant;
  2. the specific problem the project intends to address, including which of the two project categories above is relevant;
  3. qualifications of staff (including relevant youth development, academic, and/or coaching experience and planned professional development);
  4. number of weeks and hours per week that youth will participate in educational programming (must be at least four hours per week;
  5. youth participants and targeted City borough or neighborhoods;
  6. goals of the project and activities that would be undertaken during 2017 to achieve those goals;
  7. processes for measuring participants’ progress towards goals and plans for data collection and analysis; and
  8. a project budget and amount requested, showing expected sources of revenue. (Organizations may request no more than 20 percent of the total budget for equipment.)
Letters of interest can be submitted by uploading them here:

beginning on April 4, 2017 through April 25, 2017. Requests will be reviewed on a rolling basis and applicants will be notified by email whether the proposed project is of interest to the Fund. If so, the applicant will be asked to submit a proposal and attachments. Proposals will be reviewed by Trust staff. Site visits and follow-up phone calls might be arranged.

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.