Sammy Ameobi and George Friend promote the MFC Foundation - Photo by Graham Bell

The MFC Foundation will continue to use the power of the club badge to raise aspirations, build stronger communities, improve health and enhance employment prospects for young people and adults.

Boro's original community arm was launched by Chairman Steve Gibson in 1995 and has become a beacon of excellence on Teesside. MFC Foundation will build on that good work by helping local people achieve their potential.

Based in the Willie Maddren Education Centre at the Riverside Stadium, and at the

Herlingshaw Centre in South Bank, the Foundation covers six main themes: enterprise, health, social inclusion, education, sports participation and diversity.

Activities are delivered to people of all ages, races and genders, including young people, adults, NEETs (people Not in Education, Employment or Training), individuals from disadvantaged communities and those with special educational needs. The activities are delivered throughout the Tees Valley, with focus on delivery in deprived areas.

"The launch of the MFC Foundation gives us the chance to showcase the wide range of ways in which we can support our communities through education and sport," says Foundation Manager Helena Pinder.

"Every year we engage thousands of young people in sporting activities that they not only enjoy but which help to reduce anti-social behaviour."

As a charity, MFC Foundation relies on funding, sponsorship and donations. The sources of available funding have changed significantly in recent years, with far less investment from the public sector.

Current projects include the Premier League Charitable Fund, which supports two of MFCF's flagship programmes - Premier League 4 Sports and Kickz.

Premier League 4 Sports engages local young people in table-tennis, badminton, hockey and volleyball, promoting the recruitment of more coaches to help increase participation levels.

Kickz runs across three Middlesbrough electoral wards with significant levels of deprivation and offers football and flexible evening sessions to 12 to 18-year-olds. Sessions range from dance and graffiti workshops to health and crime prevention sessions.

More than 2,000 young people have engaged with these projects in the last year alone. There is independent evidence to show that these schemes deliver significant savings to the costs of community justice services in the Tees Valley and lead to safer communities.

Boro's community section has also been a key innovator in education. In 2002, The Enterprise Academy was launched, a model that has since been rolled out across 22 other football clubs.

The Enterprise Academy teaches business and enterprise skills to budding entrepreneurs in secondary schools and has helped more than 5,000 people gain a qualification since its inception.

This year the Middlesbrough team won the Premier League Enterprise Challenge Award, with the winners meeting Steve Gibson and Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and visiting the House of Commons and Stock Exchange.

Further funding and support is gained from the Football League Trust and the Professional Footballers Association, which has helped MFC Foundation launch a BTEC Level 3 to run alongside a futsal scholarship, and the National Citizenship Service, which will be running this summer for 16-year-olds from Teesside.

MFCF also specialises in girls'-only projects, with help from national charity Streetgames, and health projects, specifically using the MFC Foundation Arriva Health Bus to deliver health workshops in primary schools across the region.

MFC Foundation Trustee Robin Bloom says: "MFC Foundation has a history of delivering projects across the Tees Valley that make real and sustained differences to the community. The changes in the funding available for charities of this type mean that with our relaunch we are hoping to develop new long-term income from partnerships with local businesses and support from individuals.

"Our aim is to deliver more projects reaching into more communities and so changing more lives. If you feel you can assist, whether corporately or individually, please do not hesitate to contact us."

There will be a bucket collection at Saturday's home match with Birmingham City to raise funds for the charity. Future fund-raising events include a zip-wire challenge, to be held at the Riverside in May, and an African adventure during the summer.

Fans can also have a go at the speed cage to see if they can beat Boro's star players with the power of their shots.

ยท For more information on Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, please email or ring 01642 757674.