U.S. Bank is putting some serious money into play.
The Minneapolis-based bank, partnering with the Vikings, is spending $1 million on parks, playgrounds and sport facilities across Minnesota as part of its Places to Play program.
So far, it has given $650,000 to 16 organizations for projects that include accessible play equipment, turf, bleachers and a pavilion at popular Beltrami Park in Minneapolis.
U.S. Bank is now accepting applications for its third and final round of grants for play projects in low- and moderate-income communities, at usbank.com/placestoplay/.
The bank has provided grants for new aluminum bleachers at the ball field in Fairmont, Minn.; a nature-based play area at Frogtown Park and Farm in St. Paul, and a new wooden gym floor to replace the old tile and cement surface at St. Paul’s Conway Community Center.
The play grants aren’t just for kids. The Mower County Seniors in Austin used their grant money to replace old play equipment for kids and add adult exercise equipment.
Gideon Pond Elementary School in Burnsville received $50,000 to rebuild its playground so children in wheelchairs no longer had to sit and watch at recess, said Principal Chris Bellmont. Burnsville Lions also contributed $35,000, and the school parent-teacher organization raised funds for the project.
A new foam rubber surface and bright new equipment make the playground completely accessible for children with disabilities, Bellmont said.
He said U.S. Bank officials visited the school to better understand their needs and actually raised the grant amount afterward.
“The fact they took the time to learn about the project and us as a school community, I was amazed,” Bellmont said. “They approached this as true partners. It’s been impressive.”