July 07, 2008, 4:11 p.m. (ET)

Embassy Suites Hotels® Is the First Ever Corporate Sponsor
Hotel Brand Funds Two $25,000 Grants

Colorado Springs, Colo. - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and U.S. Paralympics are pleased to announce nearly $500,000 being distributed in grants to 24 organizations this year. The USOC introduced the Olympic Opportunity Fund in 2007 to increase multicultural participation and diversity in Olympic and Paralympic sports at a grassroots level and is proud to welcome Embassy Suites Hotels as the first ever corporate sponsor.

"We deeply appreciate Embassy Suites Hotels for being a part of the USOC's efforts to expand opportunities for youth in America who may otherwise not have the opportunity to be introduced to Olympic or Paralympic sports," said USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr. "Through the Olympic Opportunity Fund, we are encouraging organizations nationwide to create a pathway to participation in Olympic and Paralympic sport where it may not have previously existed.  We are thrilled that these grants will provide an opportunity for young athletes and we hope they are inspired by the commitment and excellence of our Olympians and Paralympians."

After receiving 120 applications from organizations nationwide the committee chose 24 organizations divided between three separate grant efforts -Embassy Suites' Giving Rising Athletes New Tomorrows (GRANT) program; the U.S. Paralympic Community/Military Grant Program; and Urban Outreach.

Embassy Suites Hotels' Giving Rising Athletes New Tomorrows (GRANT ) program has awarded a $25,000 grant each to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, E. St. Louis, Ill. (athletics) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo. (weightlifting) because of their strong commitment to athletics in the community and promotion of a "hospitable" environment where young athletes learn integrity, honesty and the spirit of sportsmanship. 

"We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate today's youth than by working with the USOC to create these grants," said John Lee, vice president, marketing and communications, Embassy Suites Hotels. "Both organizations we have chosen exemplify the true spirit of the USOC and Embassy Suites is honored to help them develop the Olympians of the future."

The USOC's Urban Outreach grants are designed to increase multicultural, urban youth participation and membership in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Grants will be awarded to the following organizations in 2008:

§         Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, Camden, N.J. (swimming)

§         Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. (judo and table tennis)

§         Boys and Girls Club of Venice, Venice, Calif. (sailing and boxing)

§         City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn. (biathlon)

§         D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, Washington, D.C., (tennis)

§         Genesis School, Kansas City, Mo. (tennis)

§         Jack London Aquatic Center, Oakland, Calif. (rowing)

§         Kansas City Storm, Kansas City, Mo. (swimming)

§         Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Dept., Miami, Fla. (wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, goalball, and fencing)

§         Northern Arizona University, Center for High Altitude Training, Flagstaff, Ariz. (track and field)

§         Pettit National Ice Center, Milwaukee, Wis. (curling)

§         Princeton National Rowing Association, West Windsor, N.J. (rowing)

§         San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation, San Diego, Calif. (multiple Paralympic sports)

§         Starlings Volleyball Clubs, USA, Imperial Beach, Calif. (volleyball)

§         World Sport Chicago, Chicago, Ill. (track and field)

The U.S. Paralympics Division has developed the U.S. Paralympic Community/Military Grant Program to encourage growth of community-based Paralympic sport programs that accommodate injured service members. The recipients of this first-year grant program are:

§         BlazeSports America, Atlanta, Ga.

§         Challenge Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska

§         City of Boulder Parks and Recreation EXPAND, Boulder, Colo.

§         Eldora Special Recreation Program, Boulder, Colo.

§         Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston, Texas.

§         University of Central Oklahoma U.S. Paralympic Training Site, Edmond, Okla.

§         United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Mission Vision Program, Colorado Springs, Colo.

In their proposals, organizations applying to receive funding had to demonstrate the capacity to implement and sustain a long-term athletic program that 1) helps increase diversity of the sport; 2) involves one or more National Governing Bodies (NGB) or the USOC Paralympic Division; and 3) increases participation in local community outreach as well as NGB membership. A total of nearly $500,000 is being distributed to these organizations to support their sport programs in 2008.

USOC partnering organizations interested in information concerning future Olympic Opportunity Fund grants can contact the USOC Education and Outreach Programs Department at 719.632.5551.