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Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund awards $50,000 to Georgia High School Association

 Funding will cover registration fees to increase the number of youth sports officials

ATLANTA (Dec. 15, 2023) — The Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund (AFYF), an associate-led fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, today announced it has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to increase the number of youth sports officials in the state.  

The grant not only aims to bolster the number of sports officials statewide but also alleviates the financial burden on new GHSA youth sports officials, who typically invest around $500 of their own funds to become an official.  

To address these recruitment and financial concerns, the grant from AFYF will help GHSA establish a Georgia Youth Sports Officials Recruitment program. New officials will receive grants ranging from $200 to $400, depending on the sport. GHSA will attract high school and college student-aged officials through career fairs and first-responder recruitment programs. Funding for this program will cover the registration and startup costs for 100-200 new sports officials.  

“Our sport is facing a critical need to increase the number of officials at the youth and high school level,” Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay said. “The Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia High School Association have been long-time partners in support of youth and high school football and we are proud to work with them to tackle this important issue. Our hope is that this grant removes perceived barriers and shows support not just for officials, but for all student athletes.  Additionally, we want to inspire other NFL teams and corporate entities to create similar programs in their cities to tackle this urgent need nationwide.” 

“We are extremely excited about this new grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund,” GHSA Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines said. “We started working on this project last spring and I really appreciate both Aidan Mullaney and Chris Millman for their persistence to make sure this much needed assistance became a reality. Nationally and here in Georgia, we are in dire need of recruiting, training, and developing a pool of young officials, and this grant will be earmarked to address that specific need. I am overjoyed that this has become a reality.” 

By fostering an improved pipeline for new officials, the Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund anticipates an increase in trained referees, ensuring safe and competitive environments for youth sports across Georgia.  

“The Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund is proud to make this grant to help remove barriers, encouraging more people to become officials and keeping student athletes across the state involved in sports,” said Patrick Shanley, Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund committee member. 

More information on how to sign up for this program and enroll as an official will be made available after the first of year. 


The Atlanta Falcons Youth Fund (AFYF) strives to increase the time kids spend in physical activity-especially those approaches that change the lives of children who are most likely to miss out on or opt out of physical activity and to give more children access to fresh fruits and vegetables. AFYF is an associate-led fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.  


The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is the organization that governs athletics and activities for member high schools in Georgia. GHSA organizes all sports and academic competitions as well as oversees registration and training and approves local area sports officials’ associations to administer regional athletics and activities per member schools. 

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