Community efforts earn pair of MLB organizations recognition
By Mark Newman
The Giants Community Fund and the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy are among the finalists for the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 2016 Sports Award, which will be announced on Sept. 28 in an effort to recognize professional teams, individuals and organizations that strengthen and serve communities through sport.
The Sports Award, which will be announced at the Foundation's headquarters in Princeton, N.J., recognizes innovative and influential approaches to using sports to make communities healthier places to live. Approaches may include: helping children maintain a healthy weight; creating safe play environments; encouraging positive behaviors; eliminating bullying, abuse and violence; and expanding opportunities for children living in poverty.
"The finalists for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award are outstanding examples of organizations dedicated to a culture of health," said president and CEO of RWJF Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "They have demonstrated a successful track record as a powerful voice for the importance of sports as a platform for community health and well-being."
There are three categories of winners for the Sports Award: A professional sports team community relations department or foundation; individual athlete or professional coach's foundation; and organization that is an influential leader and model for others. The Giants and Nationals organizations are among three finalists in the first of those categories.
The Giants Community Fund collaborates with the Giants franchise to use baseball as a forum to encourage underserved youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives, and it provides assistance to targeted community initiatives in the areas of education, health and violence prevention.
The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy is an organization dedicated to using baseball and softball as vehicles to foster positive character development, academic success and improved health among underserved youth in Washington D.C. Designed specifically to meet the needs of those from underserved neighborhoods, the Academy's programming is rigorous, research-based and diverse, giving youth opportunities to improve their physical fitness and academic performance, while gaining exposure to new experiences.
The third finalist in that professional sports team category is the MLSE Foundation. With the support of MLSE's teams (the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Toronto Marlies) the Foundation's latest project, MLSE LaunchPad, will be the first collaborative space in North America to leverage sport, education and research to promote social change.
Baseball is also represented in the individual athlete category, as The Moyer Foundation is among three finalists there. The Moyer Foundation provides comfort, hope and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction. Founded in 2000 by pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen, it supports thousands of children and families each year through its free signature programs and services -- notably Camp Erin, the largest national bereavement program for children and teens grieving the death of someone significant in their lives.
Visit MLBCommunity.org for more information on how MLB and its clubs reach out in their communities.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.