ST. PAUL - Hosting a Super Bowl is about much more than football, the vice president of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee told a group of children at the Conway Community Center gym on Tuesday, Jan. 9. It's also about leaving a legacy.
That's why the committee awarded a $50,000 grant to the Sanneh Foundation to make over the Conway gym on St. Paul's East Side. At the gym, children have fun, receive fuel (food) and learn about fundamentals, the three core goals of the committee.
"I'm excited about the way this space is going to look once this project is complete. ... But I'm really, really excited about all the ways (the Sanneh Foundation) uses sports to prepare our young people for life," St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said during a ceremony Tuesday.
The grant is the 49th awarded by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. The committee has been giving out weekly grants to similar organizations since February. By Super Bowl Sunday, it will have awarded 52.
With three weeks to go, the committee has given more than $4 million. Each week, they have a ceremony and celebrate. All the grants are aimed at improving the health and wellness of Minnesota children, specifically those living in poverty or those of color.
The first grant awarded in St. Paul went to the city's Parks and Recreation Department, $100,000 given in February to retrofit several tennis courts at city parks into courts for Sepak Takraw, a traditional Southeast Asian sport that combines aspects of soccer and volleyball. The courts were the first official Sepak Takraw courts in the country.
In May, the Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services was awarded $50,000 to support Rivoli Bluff Orchard, an outdoor neighborhood garden. Young people are employed to operate the orchard, which supplies a neighborhood farmer's market and community agriculture program.
St. Paul's third project was at the Frogtown Farm. The $50,000 grant in August built a three-structure demonstration kitchen outside, which includes a storage shed, food prep room and bake house.
"This space will support food demonstrations and cooking classes for Frogtown residents and is utilized for our community celebrations," said Shelby Rutzick, a spokeswoman for the farm.
Most recently, in December, the Super Bowl committee granted $100,000 to CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio), the state's largest Latino-led nonprofit agency. CLUES will use the money to include a teaching kitchen in its headquarters on the East Side.
Finally, during Super Bowl week, the committee will host a children's tailgating event at Target Center for the recipients of all 52 grants.
Dana Nelson, the committee's vice president of legacy and community partnerships, said she anticipates 1,500 people will attend.
"When we got the bid to host the Super Bowl, there was a commitment to doing something around health and wellness for the kids in Minnesota," Nelson said. "There was just a rich history of giving and philanthropy in Minnesota, and we wanted to showcase that"