As one of Pirates Charities' signature programs, "Fields For Kids" provides financial support for youth baseball and softball organizations to improve their facilities through matching grants between $1,000 and $5,000. Since the program came into existence in 2009, 107 grants totaling nearly $425,000 have been distributed to groups in 25 counties and four states.
The vast majority of those grants -- 97 to be exact -- were awarded to organizations in the greater Pittsburgh region and the other 10 went to groups in the Bradenton-Sarasota area of Florida where the Pirates make their spring training home and have a pair of minor league affiliates. The funds may be used to upgrade essential field components such as sod, infield playing surfaces, fencing, dugouts and irrigation systems. Upgrades to the overall facility -- including lights, bleachers, scoreboards and concession stands -- are also eligible. There are three "Fields For Kids" grant cycles each year and two of the three for 2012 were announced during the baseball season -- in June and August.
"We are proud to match the efforts of local community organizations and to raise funds to pull these high-impact projects together," Bob Nutting, the Chairman of both the Pirates and Pirates Charities said. "We have now issued more than 100 grants to deserving youth organizations in the four years since we launched our 'Fields for Kids' program. These grants not only improve playing facilities, they help to ensure that thousands of area youth have the opportunity to focus on productive activities and positive interaction with their peers, coaches and parents."
In addition, Pitcairn Borough -- which runs a 10-team league -- will utilize its grant to upgrade the drainage of its fields and purchase new bleachers. And the Kennedy Baseball Association will add outfield fencing, where there currently is none, in order to improve safety for the more than 220 players who take part in its league.
A total of 10 other counties in Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio were also recipients of second-round grants this year, including South Union Township in Fayette County, which is home to more than 50 teams and 600 children. That group received a grant to assist with renovations to the infields at its four-field complex.
Boardman Community Baseball Inc. of Mahoning County, Ohio -- which serves nearly 1,000 youngsters -- will utilize the funds it received to complete an irrigation project. And the Blackhawk Area Youth Baseball Association in Beaver County will use the grant to renovate its building and construct two new batting cages for the benefit of more than 300 youths it serves.