NFL Donates Funding for Youth Education Center

Finnigan Park
A one million dollar donation from the NFL is funding a youth education center in Houston's historic Finnigan Park. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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Finnigan Park was donated to the City of Houston to be used as a greenspace for the black community. The city was segregated at the time, and the only other park open to black residents was Emancipation Park. Over the years, Finnigan Park became known for it's athletic programs and, specifically, the number of basketball stars who got their start in the Finnigan gym. Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee says the park eventually lost its luster.

"It was forgotten, it was drug-infested, it was -- you know -- it was all the wrong things, it wasn't productive to the community. But historically, it had been a real premiere center for nurturing young athletic talent."

About eight years, the county began to revitalize the park and make it safe for the community again. When Houston was selected as the SuperBowl host city, Lee says he immediately made it clear that Finnigan Park should be home to the NFL's Youth Education Town Center.

"It's real important to have that because the resources are not getting -- or families are getting better, the family needs are not being improved -- their lots are not being improved fast enough to do it themselves. So government can do a little bit, private sector can do a lot more and together stretch to extend a safety net."

The NFL grants $1 million to every SuperBowl host city to build a YET Center. The Finnigan Park Yet Center will be operated by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...