Flint, MI — Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) was awarded a $250,000 grant for a new synthetic turf field for a planned sports complex on Flint’s north side, courtesy of the Lions, the National Football League (NFL) Foundation Grassroots Program, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). 

Lomas Brown of the Detroit Lions, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village Executive Director Maryum Rasool and staff gathered at SBEV for the check presentation on Jan. 27, 2020.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for being here today, for supporting us in this initiative. The community, the city of Flint, they really embraced us. All of our funders, everyone was on board. This is not just a win for Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, but this is a win for the city of Flint,” said Rasool. 

The $250,000 grant is a portion of $3 million awarded to underserved neighborhoods to go toward the renovation of community playing fields this year alone. The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, has doled out nearly $61 million in order to build and revitalize 376 football fields since 1998. 

Brown touched on the intersection of sports, youth, and education as well, saying: “I know personally how sports ties in with our youth and how important sports is with our education. To me, both of them go hand in hand and if you want to draw the young kids in, that’s how you do it, with sports, but you bring them in so you can capture them and you can preach education to them; you can preach being a great adult.”

“On behalf of the Detroit Lions, on behalf of the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, I want to thank you guys and I want to commend you guys on the work that you have been doing with the youth,” said Brown. “That’s the investment. Invest back into our youth; that’s where we’re going to get our greatest return.”

So far, details of the sports complex, The Flint Sports Complex, have not been released but it will be another amenity to SBEV’s facility which serves Flint-area youth through after school and summer programs including tutoring, sports, dance, media, robotics and art.

Dr. Jawad Shah, Board Chairman of SBEV, said the sports complex will be an expansion of the work SBEV is doing in the Flint community.

“While we love all of the different activities that are occurring, we feel there’s value in sports, there’s value in team building, there’s value in health,” Shah said. “We use that to try to get the kids into our tutoring program. As they get into our tutoring program, then we emphasize that you can continue in our fun stuff as long as you’re continuing with your schooling and education.”

Ramona Watson is a 23-year-old Flint native with a love for art, culture, and the written word, as well as a keen interest in learning more about Flint not only as a city but as a community. Ramona graduated...