CAMDEN, NJ — Students passed footballs around and got to spend some time with Swoop, the Philadelphia Eagles' mascot, at the unveiling Monday of a new turf field at the Lanning Square campus of KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy.
City officials gathered with members of the community and NFL Foundation representatives in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the field, which was installed thanks to $500,000 in funding.
A $250,000 grant from the Philadelphia Eagles through the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program was combined with a matching $250,000 grant from the Cooper Foundation.
“We are here today to demonstrate our belief in the young residents of Camden and this new field confirms our investment in our students’ health, recreation and future,” said George E. Norcross III. “I’d like to personally thank the NFL Foundation and the Eagles for their commitment to Camden."
The 140-foot by 240-foot synthetic turf field provides new opportunities for in-school and after-school programming for the 900 students at KCNA, as well as allows children to participate in a variety of outdoor activities year-round. This includes new opportunities in partnering with the Camden Health and Athletic Association to expand access to youth sports in the city.
The infill material used for the field is organic, made from coconut husk and cork, to ensure a clean, safe environment for children. These non-chemical materials allow for a cooler playing surface than traditional rubber pellet infill. The turf surface is more cost-effective to maintain than natural grass. The field also includes a state-of-the-art drainage system.
“When I look out at this field, I see a symbol of the strength of this community and a network of people and organizations rooting for the children who will play here,” Mayor Frank Moran said. “I’m thankful to the NFL Foundation and the Cooper Foundation for making tangible investments in our great city.”
The grant from the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL Foundation, with the help of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, was part of more than $3 million in field refurbishment awards allocated by the NFL Foundation last year. LISC, the nation’s leading community development support organization, identifies community-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing fields in schools and neighborhood parks and oversees the construction and maintenance of the fields.
Don Smolenski, president of the Philadelphia Eagles, said this marks the 14th field project coordinated with LISC.
"We hope this new field at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy becomes a place where all of the children in the community can have fun and live out their football dreams," Smolenski said.
The Cooper Foundation’s support for the project continues its partnership with KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy. The foundation is committed to ensuring access to safe playing fields for students and community residents in promoting healthier lifestyles.
"We're grateful to all of the organizations that have made this new field possible for our families,” said Drew Martin, executive director of KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy. “As adults, we are constantly modeling for our students and this field will be a reminder to them of what is possible when people come together to do something truly great.”
Added Susan Bass Levin, president and CEO of the Cooper Foundation: "This new turf field is more than a place to run and play – it is a commitment to the health and well-being of the community.”