YAF Youth Athletic Facilities


$11.2 million


Grant Limit

$1.5 million


Match Requirement

50 percent


The Youth Athletic Facilities program provides grants to buy land and develop or renovate outdoor athletic facilities such as ball fields, courts, swimming pools, mountain bike tracks, and skate parks that serve youth through the age of eighteen.

While the program focuses on youth, RCO strongly encourages grant recipients to design facilities to serve all ages and multiple activities.

An athletic facility is an outdoor facility used for playing sports or participating in competitive athletics and excludes playgrounds, tot lots, vacant lots, open or undeveloped fields, and level open space used for non-athletic play.

Grant Application Schedule

Item Date

Applicant Webinar, Applications Open

Watch Application Webinar

February 14, 2024 

Application Due

May 1, 2024 

Technical Review

May 2, 2024 - June 25, 2024

Technical Completion Deadline

July 18, 2024 

Project Evaluation (written)

August 1, 2024 - August 30, 2024

Board Approves Preliminary Ranked Lists

October 29, 2024 - October 30, 2024

Grant Award History

Most recent grants and evaluation results, listed by the application year.

Application Resources

Grant Manual


Changes to Evaluation Criteria in 2024

Project Celebrations
Soccer ball

Typical Projects

  • Adding lights to a field to allow evening games
  • Changing an underused tennis court to a high-demand basketball court
  • Changing the field surface, such as installing artificial turf, to allow more games per season or more seasons when the field may be used
  • Expanding a youth-sized softball field to accommodate broader community uses

Who May Apply?

Small Grants Category

  • Cities, towns, and park districts with a population of ten thousand residents or fewer.
  • Counties with sixty thousand residents or fewer. The project must be in an unincorporated area.
  • Native American tribes
  • Nonprofit organizations. The population of the jurisdiction where the project lies will apply.

Large Grants Category

  • Cities
  • Counties
  • Park districts
  • Native American tribes
  • Nonprofit organizations active in youth or community athletic activities for at least three years

Funding Source

Funding comes from the sale of state bonds and is awarded every two years.

Grant Limits

  • Small Grants=Up to $350,000 (total project cost including match must be no greater than $700,000)
  • Large Grants=$25,000-$1.5 million

Match Details

Applicants must contribute match that equals the amount of the grant request.

Match may include the following:

  • Appropriations or cash
  • Bonds
  • Donations of cash, labor, equipment, and materials
  • Other grants
  • Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials

Some local agencies may reduce their match if they meet any of the criteria below:

  • Communities in need
  • Under-served populations
  • Counties in need
  • Federal disaster area

Eligible Projects

  • Architectural and engineering costs.
  • Areas associated with track and field events.
  • Land acquisition for future development of eligible facilities.
  • Outdoor athletic fields, such as baseball, lacrosse, and soccer fields.
  • Outside pools for competitive events.
  • Sport courts outdoors such as tennis or basketball courts.
  • Support elements such as landscaping, restrooms, drinking fountains, bleachers, bike racks, scoreboards, signs, roads, driveways, fire lanes, and parking lots. These projects must include an “in bounds” item, which is an item found within the field of play or on the court or track and is essential for the competitive sport to occur. Refer to the Manual 17: Youth Athletic Facilities for more details or contact a grants manager. This requirement does not apply to stand-alone accessibility improvement projects in the Small Grants Category.

Ineligible Projects

  • Acquisition or combination projects in the Small Grants Category
  • Any facility intended exclusively or primarily for professional or semi-pro sports use
  • Any work done on a facility not eligible for a YAF grant
  • Consumable supplies such as light bulbs, toilet paper, fertilizer, chalk, and fuel
  • Elements that cannot be defined as fixtures or capital items, such as uniforms, bats, balls, and coolers
  • Indirect costs
  • Indoor facilities such as gyms, courts, pools, ice rinks
  • Multiple Small Grant Category applications at the same facility or location in the same biennium
  • Organizational operating expenses or overhead including staff salaries
  • Purchase of maintenance equipment, tools, or supplies
  • Routine maintenance such as lawn mowing
  • Signs or displays promoting tobacco products or alcoholic beverages
  • Stand-alone acquisitions
  • Utility payments such as monthly water or electric bills

Long-term Commitment

Land acquired with YAF grants must be kept available for outdoor recreation purposes forever.

Land or facilities renovated with these grants must be available for public youth or community athletic use for at least twendy years after RCO accepts the project as complete.