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Nike helps nonprofits from Oregon to Sudan

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Articles - November 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010


This Kenyan basketball court funded by Nike and Architecture for Humanity is capable of collecting and purifying 30,000 liters of clean drinking water with every two inches of rain. The court also serves as an outdoor classroom, a music venue and a dining area. // PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKE

One project will provide swim lessons for underserved kids in east Multnomah County. Another helped build a skateboard park in Afghanistan. Others under consideration would power Tanzanian villages with bicycle-generated electricity, support a “slum soccer” program in India and organize the first-ever “Caribbean pole-vault summit” on the island country of St. Lucia.

Two new grant programs backed by Beaverton-headquartered Nike, one local and the other global, are pouring seed money into projects from Clatskanie to Kenya.

The local program is the $500,000-per-year Nike Employee Grant Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation. The fund was announced in May and announced its first 18 winners in late September. Among the local nonprofits receiving between $5,000 and $20,000 in the first round are:

  • Adventure Without Limits in Forest Grove, which gives at-risk kids the opportunity to participate in intense physical adventures
  • The Community Cycling Center in Portland, which will provide 26 scholarships to teach children self-sufficient, safe riding
  • Friends of Zenger Farm in southeast Portland, which helps families eat healthy

Nike has committed to funding the program with $1.5 million over the next three years. Winners will be announced twice a year.

The global program is a collaboration between Nike and San Francisco-based Architecture for Humanity called GameChangers. It offers $500,000 per year for “micro interventions” that tackle social problems and/or economic development through sports facilities for youth.

Early winners have included the Kabul skate park called Skateistan, a basketball court in Kenya that captures rainfall for clean drinking water and a resource center for participants in the Homeless World Cup.

GameChangers was launched a year ago. In addition to money from Nike, winning projects also receive help from a professional design team provided by Architecture for Humanity. Proposals vying for $25,000 GameChangers grants in the current funding cycle include:

  • A football program for youth in Darfur, Sudan
  • A “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” sports-fishing program in Miami
  • A surfing center at a Tel Aviv beach shared by Jewish and Arab youth

“There’s a lot of grass-roots programs out there that need support, and seed capital is always helpful,” says Nike spokeswoman Kate Meyers. “As a company founded on innovation we’re always looking for organizations that are doing things that are interesting and innovative.”


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