MLB and Scholastic Celebrate Anniversary of Breaking Barriers Program

Major League Baseball and Scholastic are celebrating the 20th Anniversary off Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, the educational program designed to teach young students about the obstacles faced by Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson as he broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. The 2016 program launches today with newly-created online student activities and an essay contest that will award twenty student-winners with prizes, including being honored at the 2016 MLB All-Star Game in San Diego and the 2016 World Series for the two Grand Prize Winners.

Educators of students in grades four through nine can now download free Breaking Barriers program materials at Scholastic.com/breakingbarriers.

The Breaking Barriers educational program culminates with students writing essays that illustrate how they were able to overcome obstacles or barriers in their own lives through the example set forth by Robinson, focusing on nine values: Courage, Teamwork, Determination, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment and Excellence. Teachers can submit these essays for consideration for national recognition by Major League Baseball, Scholastic and Sharon Robinson - daughter of Jackie Robinson, MLB Educational Programming Consultant, author, and founder of the Breaking Barriers program. Deadline for submitting essays is Monday, March 14, 2016.

Sharon Robinson said: "As a former educator, I have truly enjoyed and appreciated how the Breaking Barriers program has served as an outstanding tool to not only teach today's children about Jackie Robinson and his legacy, but also provide an outlet for them to address personal obstacles they may be facing in their lives. Through the support of Scholastic and Church & Dwight, we continue to reach thousands of young people by encouraging them to write creatively and, hopefully, help make a positive difference in their lives."

In 2015, more than 16,000 essays were submitted for consideration for a three-tiered prize system, in which ten overall winners of the contest were recognized. To celebrate the program's 20th anniversary, the program will double the amount of winners in 2016 to twenty, which will include two Grand Prize winners, two MVP winners and sixteen All-Star Prize winners split between two separate grade groups (Grades 4-6 & Grades 7-9).

The Grand Prize Winner of students in grades 4-6 will receive the opportunity to attend and be honored at the annual MLB All-Star Game, which will be held in San Diego in July 2016, while the Grand Prize Winner of students in grades 7-9 will receive the opportunity to attend and be honored at a game of the 2016 World Series. All twenty prize winners will receive a laptop computer and Breaking Barriers t-shirts and books for their class written by Sharon Robinson. The four Grand Prize and MVP Prize winners will each receive a personal classroom visit from Robinson, and their teachers also will receive a laptop.

Breaking Barriers was developed by MLB, Sharon Robinson and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company. The program is supported by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., maker of ARM & HAMMER™ and OxiClean™ products and a proud sponsor of Major League Baseball. Church & Dwight is making an annual donation of $150,000 to the Breaking Barriers program through 2016. Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached more than 27 million children and 3.6 million educators in the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

"The inspiring stories we've heard from students and teachers over the past twenty years show the incredible impact this program has in encouraging students to write about their personal barriers in life," said Ann Amstutz Hayes, senior vice president at Scholastic. "Scholastic is proud to once again join Major League Baseball, Sharon Robinson and Church & Dwight to create a platform that allows students to express themselves, and to think about their strengths and successes."

Sharon Robinson is the author of several widely-praised nonfiction books and novels for children. In her newest novel, The Hero Two Doors Down (Scholastic; February 2016), she tells the story of Steven Satlow, a young Dodgers fan in the 1940s, who befriended the great Jackie Robinson after his family moved to Satlow's all-Jewish neighborhood.