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Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development

Call for Letters of Interest

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Letters of Interest Must Be Received On or Before February 28, 2018


Education-focused programs can 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 that combine sports and academics help young people learn respect, compromise, and persistence; how to play on a team; and sportsmanship. 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 will engage academic and youth development programs 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 charitable organizations that use sports to engage underprivileged young people, ages 13 to 18, in educational activities. The Fund seeks to make youth sports programs that offer educational services widely available to disadvantaged young people, regardless of athletic ability.

I.  Request for Letters of Interest  

The New York Community Trust is pleased to invite Letters of Interest (LOI) for grants of $10,000 to $40,000 from nonprofit organizations operating education-focused youth sports projects. We strongly encourage small nonprofits to apply. The review and selection of LOI’s will be competitive and guided by an advisory committee. Preference will be given to projects that:

  1. have the potential for scale, i.e., serve substantial numbers of underprivileged young people, and/or operate on a minimum of five public school campuses; or
  2. will improve the quality and effectiveness of existing programs to better support young people.

II.        Submission Requirements and Procedures

Applicants must:

  1. be tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations in New York City, Westchester, or on Long Island, unincorporated organizations may apply using a fiscal sponsor; and
  2. 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.

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

Prospective applicants should write a four-page letter of inquiry—single-spaced using 12-pt. font—that includes:

  1.  the organization(s) involved;
  2.  the issue to be addressed;
  3.  how the objectives of the proposed project relate to The Fund’s priorities;
  4.  the number of weeks and hours per week that youth will participate in educational programming (must be at least four hours per week);
  5.  the goals of the project and activities that would be undertaken during the next 12 months to meet those goals;
  6.  demographics of participants and neighborhoods, if applicable;
  7.  names and qualifications of youth development, academic, and/or coaching staff and planned professional development activities;
  8.  the processes for measuring participants’ progress toward meeting the programs’ aim and plans for data collection and analysis; and
  9.  a project budget, the amount requested, and other sources of revenue. (Organizations may request up to 20 percent of the total budget for equipment.)

    Letters of Interest must be uploaded online at by 5:00 P.M. on February 28, 2018. We welcome submissions before this deadline. Applicants will be notified by email if the proposed project is of interest to the Fund, and may be asked to submit a formal grant proposal and attachments. Site visits and follow-up phone calls also may be arranged.

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