Kauffman Foundation donates $500K to Negro Leagues Museum

KANSAS CITY -- The holiday spirit of giving is in full force with the news that the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The announcement came Thursday, a grant that will help support museum operations, programs, exhibits and the opening of the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center (BOERC) at the site of the historic Paseo YMCA in Kansas City.

"Talk about spreading holiday cheer," NLBM president Bob Kendrick said in a release. "Our board and staff would like to thank the Kauffman Foundation for its generosity and continued support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This significant grant will support several major 2016 initiatives that will increase attendance, heighten national awareness and further position us as one of the nation's most important cultural institutions."

The Kauffman grant will help support one major initiative in 2016, an exhibition called "Barrier Breakers," set to open in May. The exhibit chronicles the integration of every Major League team from 1947-59.

While Jackie Robinson, who began his career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues in 1945, broke the color barrier in 1947, it took 12 years for all MLB teams to integrate. The Red Sox were the final team to integrate when they signed Elijah "Pumpsie" Green in 1959.

Named in honor of the NLBM's popular late chairman and baseball legend John "Buck" O'Neil, the BOERC is an expansion of the museum into the Paseo YMCA. The BOERC will be a public use facility that will incorporate the latest in interactive technology and state-of-the-art research equipment. The center will allow visitors, students, researchers and baseball fans to gain an in depth understanding of the connection between Negro Leagues and social history.

The BOERC is expected to be completed next summer.

"You can't help but believe that somewhere in that great somewhere, ol' Buck is smiling because his dream of building an education center is closer to realization and that his museum continues to grow and thrive," Kendrick said. "He'd also be thrilled that the Kauffman Foundation continues to play a starring role in helping keep the legacy of the Negro Leagues alive."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.