Chicago Bears Help Build Athletic Field at Orr Academy High School

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The only all-weather, regulation-sized football field and track in Chicago's Austin neighborhood is being built at Orr Academy High School, 730 N. Pulaski Rd., through support from the Chicago Bears, Bruce and Diana Rauner, the Pritzker Foundation, the Chicago Park District, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Brian and Kelly Swette, Mike and Lindy Keiser, and the NFL Grassroots Program.

What was once just an empty dirt area will now feature the only all-weather, regulation-sized football field and track in Chicago's Austin neighborhood. The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), the organization that transformed Orr Academy High School in 2008 as its first turnaround high school, raised money for the $2.6 million project by securing private donations as well as funds from the City of Chicago.

Bruce and Diana Rauner, the Pritzker Foundation, the Chicago Park District, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Brian and Kelly Swette, Mike and Lindy Keiser, and the NFL Grassroots Program, a partnership between the National Football League (NFL), the NFL Players Association and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), have partnered with Orr Academy High School, 730 N. Pulaski Rd., to build an athletic facility that will be used to host football, soccer and lacrosse games as well as track and field events.

The field will be named "Rauner Field" after the lead donors on this project, Bruce and Diana Rauner. The field will feature the only regulation-sized, all-weather track courtesy of the Pritzker Foundation and Chicago Run.

"We are honored to play an important role in providing children in Chicago the opportunity to experience running," said Penny Pritzker, board member of the Pritzker Foundation and co-founder of Chicago Run. "We hope this field becomes a valuable destination point for all types of physical activity in the years to come."

The Chicago Bears and NFL Grassroots provided the final $200,000 to complete the facility.

"Having an athletic field on campus will be a huge benefit, not only for the students and faculty at Orr, but also for the entire community," said Jammie Poole, principal of Orr Academy. "We are incredibly thankful to the donors and supporters for their commitment to our school and the community."

The field also will be used by the Chicago Park District and AUSL's elementary tackle football program that includes students from 11 schools.

The first football game to be played on the field is scheduled for Sept. 5 and will include a dedication ceremony with Chicago Bears players at 1 p.m.

About the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL)
AUSL (http://www.ausl-chicago.org) was founded in 2001 by Martin J. Koldyke, venture capitalist and founder of The Golden Apple Foundation, who inspired business, community and education leaders to design a program that would reform teaching. AUSL is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; NewSchools Venture Fund; Boeing Charitable Trust, Motorola Foundation and other Chicago corporations, as well as many generous individual donors and other philanthropies.

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