In addition to a wide array of Programs & Partnerships to support player health and safety on and off the field, the National Football League also funds scientific exploration of new and better ways to protect players and improve health. Support for medical research has been conducted through NFL Charities – a non-profit organization created by the 32 member clubs of the National Football League to enable the teams to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes on a national scale. NFL Charities has funded more than $20 million in Medical Research Grants to support a broad range of areas such as sports injury prevention, concussion prevention and treatment, and innovations in injury treatment. This research benefits not only NFL players, but all who are involved in recreational athletic activities.
Medical grants from NFL Charities are also awarded to support collaboration and sharing of information through annual meetings and educational initiatives among members of the NFL medical and training community, including National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Professional Football Athletic Training Society (PFATS).
Each year $1.5 million is allocated to the NFL Charities Medical Grant category to support research endeavors and help address some of the risk factors that exist not only for football players, but for many athletes and people with active lifestyles. Eligible applicants may apply for grant awards of up to $100,000, allowing for 10-15 projects to receive awards annually. The NFL Charities Medical Grants is on an 18-month funding cycle. NFL Charities Medical Grant funding is available for non-profit educational and research institutions within the United States only. For-profit enterprises are not eligible to apply in this grant category.
Medical grant applications are reviewed by members of a Medical Grants Subcommittee. Previous reviewers have included representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Ohio State University College of Medicine, among others. Recommendations are made by the Medical Grants Subcommittee to the NFL Charities Board for a final decision. The NFL Charities Board considers medical grant proposals that place emphasis on scientific merit, clinical relevance and significance to the NFL.
NFL Charities continues to review and enhance the medical grant process and structure to align with industry best practices and standards, as well as player health and safety research priorities.
The Medical Grants Subcommittee adjusts the areas of target study to address the most pressing issues in football health and safety. For example, in 2010, the NFL Charities Medical Grants Subcommittee placed greater emphasis on proposed projects concerning concussion and traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular research, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection caused by a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.
To learn more details about the NFL Charities medical grant application process, or to submit an application online, visit the NFL Charities website.
UPDATE: In December 2012, the NFL announced the creation of the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) following an update to the structure of the NFL?s philanthropic organizations. The NFL Youth Football Fund was merged with NFL Charities and then renamed NFL Foundation. For more information about the NFL Foundation, visit: www.nflfoundation.org.