Nick Hands Out ‘Play’ Money


As part of its “Let’s Just Play” outreach, Nickelodeonsaid it is awarding some $600,000 in grants to more than 80 schools and other organizations across the United States as part of its ongoing commitment to help foster healthy and active lifestyles within local communities.

In the first year of the grants program, network officials said, awards -- ranging from $2,500-$10,000 apiece -- were given to applicants demonstrating a comprehensive plan for encouraging play in their area, with the outlays judged on a competitive basis according to the range and scope of the project, creativity, accountability and the impact it would potentially have on participants.

Nick said it received more than 1,800 grant applications from across the country, expressing more than $9 million in need.

The network also announced plans to commit $1.5 million to this year’s Let’s Just Play grants program. By more than doubling this year’s commitment, Nick said, it aims to serve as a facilitator and encourage its partners, advertisers, licensees and others to become involved in the program.

Funds will be awarded through various initiatives during the year. A more detailed announcement about the 2005 grants program will be issued later this year.

Now in its third year, the Let’s Just Play campaign -- in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National PTA -- has traveled to 11 U.S. cities, where more than 70,000 kids collectively spent the day outside in a safe, healthy environment.

“We have become increasingly aware of the challenges faced by schools and community-based organizations to fund programs that address the inactive lifestyles among kids today,” Nickelodeon executive vice president of public affairs Marva Smalls said in a prepared statement.

“Of the applications we received, the majority requested funds for basic necessities such as athletic equipment, clearly demonstrating that it does not take an exorbitant amount of money to assist,” she added. “Small amounts can yield big results for a community and will make up for budget cuts elsewhere.”