Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF)
The Youth Athletic Facilities grant program provides money to buy land and renovate outdoor athletic facilities such as ball fields, courts, swimming pools, BMX tracks, and skate parks that serve youth.
The program focuses on serving youth through the age of 18, who participate in sports and athletics. RCO, however, strongly encourages you to design your facilities to serve all ages and multiple activities.
An athletic facility is an outdoor facility used for playing sports or participating in competitive athletics and excludes playgrounds, tot lots, vacant lots, open or undeveloped fields, and level open space used for non-athletic play.
- Adding lights to a field to allow evening games
- Changing an underused tennis court to a high-demand basketball court
- Changing the field surface, such as installing artificial turf, to allow more games per season or extend the number of seasons the field is in use
- Expanding a youth-sized softball field to accommodate broader community uses
- Reorienting a softball field so it can accommodate another athletic activity such as soccer
*Projects must include an “in bounds” item, which are items found within the field of play or on the court or track and that are essential for the competitive sport to occur. “In bounds” items include such things as playing surfaces, goals, nets, bases, pitching mounds, fences and backstops for softball and baseball, irrigation, drainage, and field lighting.
Funding comes from the sale of general obligation bonds.
Who can apply?*
- Park districts
- Native American tribes
- Non-profit organizations active in youth or community athletic activities for at least 3 years
A grant applicant must contribute match that equals the amount of the grant request. This is called providing a 50 percent matching share.* At least 10 percent of the total project cost (grant amount plus match) must be from a non-state, non-federal contribution. Match may include, but is not limited to:
- Appropriations or cash
- Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
- Federal, state, local, and private grants
- Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials
- Grant miniumum=$25,000
- Grant maximum=$250,000
Funding Anticipated (Average)
Legislative funding is anticipated in 2015.
- Land acquisition with renovation of existing facilities
- Outdoor athletic fields, such as baseball, field hockey, football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and softball
- Outdoor sport courts such as tennis, basketball, handball, bocce, and ice hockey
- Pools for competitive events
- Areas associated with track and field events
- “In bounds” items such as playing surfaces, goals, nets, bases, pitching mounds, fences and backstops for softball and baseball, irrigation, drainage, and field lighting
- Support elements such as landscaping, restrooms, drinking fountains, bleachers, bike racks, scoreboards, signs, roads, driveways, fire lanes, and parking lots
- Architectural and engineering costs
- Any facility intended exclusively or primarily for professional or “semi-pro” sports use
- Indirect costs
- Indoor facilities (i.e., gyms, courts, pools, ice rinks, etc.)
- Elements that cannot be defined as fixtures or capital items, such as uniforms, bats, balls, and coolers
- Signs or displays promoting tobacco products or alcoholic beverages
- Any work done on a facility not eligible for a Youth Athletic Facilities grant
- Consumable supplies such as light bulbs, toilet paper, fertilizer, chalk, and fuel
- Organizational operating expenses or overhead including staff salaries
- Purchase of maintenance equipment, tools, or supplies
- Routine maintenance such as lawn mowing
- Utility payments such as monthly water or electric bills
Grant Application Schedule
Applications are accepted in even years. See this year's grant schedule.
Grant Evaluation Process (5 months)
- Applicants submit an online application.
- Applications are reviewed by RCO staff.
- The YAF advisory committee will score and rank the projects.
- The ranked list is presented to the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board for consideration.
- The board awards grants.
Long-term Commitments for Funded Projects
Land acquired with these grants must be kept available forever for outdoor recreation purposes. Land or facilities renovated with these grants must be available for public youth or community athletic use for at least 20 years after RCO accepts the project as complete.