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Press Releases - County Council

Council approves $1,550,000 in special appropriations to support the Youth Sports Initiative

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Funding will help Montgomery County Recreation and the Office of Community Use of Public Facilities and community-based organizations reach more young people through sports

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 15, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted on separate special appropriations totaling $1,550,000 to support the Youth Sports Initiative. Youth sports have significant social and wellness benefits to participants. In addition to promoting mental and physical health and activity, youth sports help develop confidence, keep youth engaged in productive activities, and help to teach team building and goal setting objectives. The special appropriations will support Montgomery County Recreation and the Office of Community Use of Public Facilities and community-based organizations to help address the disparities faced in youth sports participation among underserved youth and families with low-incomes throughout the County.

One special appropriation will provide $500,000 in grant funding along with $50,000 to administer the initiative to the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth, and Families. The funds will be used for operating expenses to deliver sports programming to youth who are vulnerable or are from families with low-incomes through organizations based in Montgomery County. Each grant award will be capped at $15,000.

Montgomery Recreation will receive a special appropriation of $500,000 to provide affordable and universal youth sports leagues and activities targeting underserved communities in the County. Moreover, $500,000 will be appropriated to the Office of Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) to be disseminated through a Facility Fee Assistance Program that will reduce fees for field and building use for youth sports programs that are primarily providing free or nominal fee programs to young people who are vulnerable.

“Growing up, sports played a huge role in my development and has helped me pilot life transitions with confidence. As a parent, and chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, I want our youth in Montgomery County to experience the same positive impact that I did,” said Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. “This is why I requested an internal analysis from the Office of Legislative Oversight on youth sports participation in Montgomery County to help determine how we can bridge the disparity gap among our most underserved youth. This legislative action is only the beginning. It is our hope that we will continue to create opportunities for our youth to excel, despite their socioeconomic status.”

“Ensuring that all youth have access to the benefits of recreational sports is the goal of this appropriation,” said Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee. “Disparities existed before Covid-19 and have now been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Through both direct funding and reduced facility fees, we can assist our youth sports organizations while also encouraging our youth to stay physically and mentally fit.”

On July 29 the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, Education and Culture Committee and Health and Human Services Committee met jointly and were briefed on Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) Report 2020-4: Youth Sports in Montgomery County. The report, which was requested by Councilmember Albornoz and supported by the full Council, reviews national research on youth sports and examines the youth sports landscape in Montgomery County. OLO found that while some affordable and recreational youth sports programs exist, many youth sports programs are not well-aligned with the needs of many families.

Some of the issues that OLO discussed during the meeting included identifying ways to support affordable sports programs and encourage free play at public athletic facilities, options to promote collaboration and address silos in providing youth sports, and ways to promote affordable and recreational youth sports programs in the County, such as expanding the public provision of youth sports.

According to the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on youth sports has been profound and concerns exist about the future of the sector, particularly with respect to access for children from families with low-incomes. Youth sports organizations are experiencing severe revenue losses due to the pandemic. In the initial weeks of the pandemic, an informal poll of more than 1,000 Project Play webinar participants from youth sports organizations showed that over half of respondents anticipated at least a 50 percent drop in revenue in the next year. Moreover, many parents are concerned about sending their children back to sports due to fears of illness.

The Council staff report for the $550,000 special appropriation can be viewed here. The Council staff report for the $1 million special appropriation can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 20-367
Media Contact: Lillian Cruz 240-777-7801 , Sharon Ledner 240-777-7951