Obama announces SF Urban Youth Academy

Obama announces SF Urban Youth Academy

PHILADELPHIA -- There will be new Urban Youth Academies announced in the future, but perhaps never again with such style.

President Barack Obama announced the newest facility planned by Major League Baseball on Thursday as part of his prepared remarks to welcome the World Series champion San Francisco Giants to the White House. The Giants and MLB will partner with San Francisco State University to build another of the league's brick-and-mortar facilities that are designed to provide free baseball instruction and academic support to children in inner-city communities.

Obama made his announcement in the East Room of the White House, nearly 140 miles from where the Phillies were opening up the league's newest Urban Youth Academy. The San Francisco facility is still years away, but Darrell Miller, MLB's vice president of youth and facilities development, said it will be impressive.

"I think we're excited because we have some great partners in the Giants and San Francisco State University," Miller said. "San Francisco State really wanted something to happen on their campus, and we were part of that meeting well over a year ago. We're in heavy and hard dialogue and design phase, and we're really trying to make this work and figure it out pretty quickly. And you know, it will be unique to be on the grounds of a state university.

"It's really dynamic in the level of support we can get academically and athletically. It's going to make our programming seamless."

The first of the Urban Youth Academies, the facility in Compton, Calif., was built on the ground of Compton Community College, providing a bit of a precedent for the San Francisco academy. San Francisco State, though, is a massive institution that serves more than 20,000 undergraduate students each year, and those students may be the future interns, academic tutors and everyday employees who help make the Urban Youth Academy run at peak efficiency.

"It's all about timing and it's all about partners," Miller said of San Francisco. "Major League Baseball and the teams and their foundations can only do so much without having a local anchor. It's like you heard here in Philadelphia: If the Parks and Recreation department isn't all in -- or if there isn't a university or a city or a state entity that wants to do it -- it's difficult for us to get it done. You need that third party to really make it viable and to really make it work."

And in the academy's case, you need a well-rounded palette of support staff. The baseball and softball instruction is easily the most visible part of enrolling at the academy, but the educational component has always been just as prominent. The kids who attend the academy are provided free tutoring and help in any of the subjects they need assistance in, and the Urban Youth Academy seeks to graduate 100 percent of its students from high school.

More than 20,000 kids have been impacted by the existing academies, which are in Houston, New Orleans and Cincinnati, in addition to Compton. The academies have sent 500 kids on to play baseball or softball in college, and 150 ex-academy players have been drafted professionally. Countless others have taken advantage of the academic support and gone on to become what MLB likes to refer to as Major League Citizens.

"We can play baseball and softball all day," Miller said of the academy mission. "But education is what really changes lives."

So what's next? Where can the academy expand to in the future, and how can the league possibly top having the sitting President announce its next project? Miller isn't ready to spill any state secrets, but he said the Urban Youth Academy will always have some surprises in store.

"We have some plans," he said of future academy announcements. "The next bombshell we're going to drop is going to be worthy. Just let me say that."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.