Three families have pledged $1 million each to the charitable arm of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee in support of youth centers and playgrounds across the region, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The gifts from the families of New York Giants co-owners Jonathan M. Tisch and John Mara and New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson IV to the NY/NJ Snowflake Youth Foundation will help fund some fifty projects, including a community center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, a playground in Newark, and a pool renovation for the Paterson Boys & Girls Club. Laurie Tisch, a member of the foundation's board and founder of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, which supports a variety of healthy food initiatives, will contribute $250,000 of the $3 million for three teaching kitchens at Boys & Girls Clubs in Queens and the Bronx.
While organized philanthropic activities have been a regular component of the Super Bowl for at least twenty years, most host cities opt to partner with a national charity to build a Youth Education Town, an education and recreation center for youth, for which the NFL Foundation contributes $1 million and the host committee raises matching funds. This year, the team owners told the host committee they wanted to do more.
Including the contributions from the three families, the NY/NJ Snowflake Youth Foundation has raised $11 million for local service projects. "The game has a period of time where people are talking about it," said Johnson, who, in addition to co-chairing the host committee, serves on the foundation's board. "You certainly want community service to be a very, very important part of it. That's what we've tried to do."
While a majority of the Snowflake Youth Foundation projects will benefit towns in New Jersey, with a focus on restoring gyms and fields devastated by Superstorm Sandy, the Journal reports that no funds have been allocated to East Rutherford, home to MetLife Stadium, where Sunday's game will be played. East Rutherford mayor James L. Cassella told the Journal he "thought it was curious that we never heard from them about it or what we could do to possibly benefit from it.... We wanted to do one more [project] to help people with disabilities, but we just didn't have the resources."