Tony Hawk Foundation Awards $1.5-Million To Build Skateparks

First of many Built To Play Skatepark grant awards supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Kids make awesome happen: Port Huron, Michigan will be home to a new, permanent concrete skatepark, thanks to the Built To Play Skatepark Program and the hard work of local advocates and youth.

Vista, CA (August 2, 2018) – With the announcement of its latest grant awards, the Tony Hawk Foundation has now helped to fund more than 600 skateparks across the U.S. And thanks to a partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, this latest round includes more than $1.5-million dollars to build free, public skateparks for youth in low-income communities.

The Built To Play Skatepark Program launched this Spring as a collaboration between the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. With access for youth to free-play spaces as one of its priorities, RCWJRF enlisted the help of THF to promote the construction of public skateparks in the sixteen counties it serves in Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The Built To Play Skatepark Program offers matching grants up to $250,000 to build public skateparks in the region.

Communities receiving Built To Play Skatepark Grants include Detroit, Ferndale, Ypsilanti, and Port Huron, Michigan, as well as Rochester and Amherst, New York. Each demonstrated broad community support for a public skatepark, and enlisted local skaters to participate in its development. This is a critical component of a successful skatepark, as the youth will be its primary users. “A skatepark isn’t just a place to go and skate for a couple hours,” said Jon Fulcher of the Alix Rice Peace Park in Amherst. “It is a place where young kids learn and define who they are. It is a cultural necessity to provide these facilities to the young kids of our region.”

Outside of the Built to Play Skatepark program, eleven other communities received THF Skatepark Grants. Among them are Manchester, Vermont, recipient of the Turtle Ridge Foundation Award, and Nashville, Indiana and Laurel, Mississippi, which both received the Alex LeVasseur Memorial Award for demonstrating a strong commitment to local youth and exemplary community outreach efforts. These awards bring the total number of skateparks funded by THF to 609.

Since 2002, the foundation has been providing advocacy training and construction grants for public skateparks, as well as supporting skateboard programming internationally. The Built To Play Skatepark Program combines THF’s experience in skatepark development with the resources of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to provide communities in Southeast Michigan and Western New York an unprecedented opportunity to engage with their youth and create a world-class skatepark.

“There is an ongoing need to create spaces where kids can get outside and be physically active on their own terms,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “When you combine that with the growing popularity of skateboarding and the convening expertise of the Tony Hawk Foundation, we see a tremendous opportunity to use these investments to create healthy and engaged communities.”

“With the grant coming through, it really hypes me up for the future of this park, as well as it being a sign that you can really make change in not only your life, but the lives of people around you and in your community,” said 17-year-old Mauricio Mejia from Ypsilanti, Michigan. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, when there’s a will, there’s always a way.”

The next opportunity to apply for Built To Play Skatepark Grants is in September, but skatepark advocates in Southeast Michigan or Western New York should reach out to BTP Skatepark Manager Trevor Staples in the meantime: play@tonyhawkfoundation.org.

“Many communities are interested in developing a public skatepark to meet the needs of their citizens,” said Staples. “Built To Play is giving them a big boost to make those dreams a reality.”

Skatepark projects in other parts of the U.S. may apply for THF Skatepark Grants in January 2019, and should connect with Tony Hawk Foundation staff for assistance at contact@tonyhawkfoundation.org, or visit www.tonyhawkfoundation.org for more information.

Summer 2018 Built To Play Skatepark Grant Recipients
Detroit, Michigan – Riverside Park ($250,000)
Ferndale, Michigan – Wilson Park ($250,000)
Port Huron, Michigan – Optimist Park ($250,000)
Ypsilanti, Michigan – City Of Ypsilanti ($250,000)
Amherst, New York – Town Of Amherst ($250,000)
Rochester, New York – Washington Square ($250,000)

Summer 2018 THF Skatepark Grant Recipients
Pensacola, Florida ($25,000)
Manchester, Vermont ($10,000)
Cordova, Alabama ($5,000)
Mountain Home, Idaho ($5,000)
Nashville, Indiana ($5,000)
Des Moines, Iowa ($5,000)
Salem, Massachusetts ($5,000)
Laurel, Mississippi ($5,000)
Hamilton, Montana ($5,000)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ($5,000)
South Padre Island, Texas ($5,000)

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Tony Hawk Foundation
A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. THF promotes and provides advocacy training and funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States that promote healthy, active lifestyles, and to International programs that enrich the lives of youth through skateboarding.

Domestically, the Foundation’s Skatepark Grant program has awarded over $7.4-million to 609 communities in all 50 States. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.

The Foundation’s International Program has provided technical support and awarded $150,000 to assist youth through the Skateistan educational programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa (www.skateistan.org).

The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. For more information, visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.tonyhawkfoundation.org. You can also visit THF on facebook and Instagram @tonyhawkfoundation, and on Twitter @THF.

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2-billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit www.rcwjrf.org.