Chasing the Dream Foundation awards scholarships

Aaron's program selects 44 students from Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Chasing the Dream Foundation awards scholarships

Another generation is gearing up to chase its dream. Major League Baseball announced Thursday that 44 students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America have been chosen to receive The Dreamchaser Scholarship, an award presented annually by the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation.

Aaron, one of the game's all-time great players, started the foundation with his wife Billye in the hope of inspiring young people to develop their skills and pursue their passions. The Dreamchaser Scholarship is awarded to students with limited financial capabilities from all over the country.

This year, the 44 students hail from 20 states, and 29 recipients are women. Students were awarded grants for fields as diverse as engineering, marine biology, veterinary medicine and aviation. The program, supported exclusively by MLB, is a project near and dear to the heart of the game.

"Major League Baseball is committed to programs that lead to the positive development of young people, both on and off the field," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig on Thursday as part of an official news release. "We proudly support the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream scholarships and the program's devotion to well-rounded individuals at vital formative stages of their lives. In this 60th anniversary of the Major League debut of my friend, Hank Aaron, it is an honor to congratulate these 44 young men and women and wish them well as they pursue their dreams."

Aaron, born and raised in Mobile, Ala., starred for 23 seasons in Milwaukee and Atlanta, and famously broke Babe Ruth's home run record during the 1974 season. Aaron's record of 755 homers has since been broken by Barry Bonds, but the legend remains No. 2 on the career home run list.

The scholarship -- awarded to 44 students in honor of Aaron's iconic uniform number -- gives grants of up to $2,500 to Boys & Girls Clubs members every year. The recipients are all in between the fifth grade and 10th grade, which ensures them plenty of time to hone their respective skills before graduation.

"I am very proud of the Chasing the Dream program and everything it has done to support talented young men and women from Boys & Girls Clubs of America," said Aaron -- currently employed as a senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves -- in an official news release. "On behalf of me and my wife, Billye, we congratulate all of this year's recipients and wish them the best of luck as they work toward accomplishing their goals and achieving success in what they love to do."

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which helps millions of children around the country, also released a statement that said it was proud to be a part of any initiative related to Aaron and the game.

"Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to creating a great future for all members that attend a Club, but a future must start with a dream. We are so thankful that Hank and Billye are so committed to making kids' dreams come true," said Frank Sanchez the national vice president of sports, entertainment and alumni development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

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