Teixeira donates $1M to Harlem RBI program

Teixeira donates $1M to Harlem RBI program

Teixeira donates $1M to Harlem RBI program
NEW YORK -- From his first days wearing a Yankees uniform, Mark Teixeira has enjoyed a special relationship with the Harlem RBI charity, and their partnership is about to reach for new heights.

Teixeira announced on Wednesday that he has made a $1 million donation to Harlem RBI, and now he is calling on fans to help the East Harlem organization build a state-of-the-art facility for its children.

"When I started my professional career, the first two organizations I supported were my high school and my college," Teixeira said. "I've always thought that education and opportunity for kids is very important.

"When I look at children, education and opportunity under the umbrella of baseball, which I know, at Harlem RBI we can talk baseball and have a lot of fun. I think it's a perfect marriage."

Teixeira and Harlem RBI have launched a website, www.dreamteam25.org, where fans can literally help the Dream Team campaign raise the project above street level in East Harlem by helping to hit a goal of $10 million.

Interested fans can also text "RBI" to 50555 to make a $10 donation to the campaign.

"There's two ways to raise $10 million -- you can get 10 people to write a $1 million check, or you get a million people to write a $10 check," Teixeira said.

Teixeira will personally document the progress on Facebook and Twitter, and nine lucky donors will be selected to have lunch with Teixeira, along with a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium, on-field recognition with the first baseman and suite tickets to a Yankees game.

"The most fun I'm going to have is what we started last night," Teixeira said. "Any fan of Mark Teixeira, Harlem RBI or the New York Yankees can go to and literally buy a brick and build a piece of this charter school."

The groundbreaking project includes a 450-seat public DREAM charter school facility, a new community center, 87 units of low income housing and a rebuilt public park.

Rich Berlin, the executive director of Harlem RBI, said that Teixeira has shown a commitment and emotional investment to helping the cause since their first meeting over a meal in Tampa, Fla.

Telling Berlin that he was "all in," Teixeira officially joined Harlem RBI's board of directors in May 2010.

"Mark has written a very big check here today, and that's going to encourage other people to do the same thing," Berlin said.

"But I think it's important and inspiring for other people to know mostly what he's given up is his time, energy and passion -- his belief in what these kids can be."

Harlem RBI is an academic and baseball/softball program which focuses youth on gaining college acceptance, and recently opened a DREAM Charter School in 2008.

It is part of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, which is the Major League Baseball youth initiative designed to provide opportunities to play baseball and softball.

Harlem RBI also encourages academic success and teaches the value of teamwork and other important life lessons to underserved young people, ages 5 to 18, from urban communities.

"I'm invested in the community and being part of an organization like Harlem RBI, which is really developing the future leaders of our community," Teixeira said.

"The programs that we have are doing so much good. I want to see these kids grow and develop and really make a difference."

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