Major League Baseball to Present Grant to Little League Urban Initiative
Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs for Major League Baseball, will be on hand to make the presentation to David L. James, director of the Little League Urban Initiative, and Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, between innings of the game involving the Northwest Champions and Southwest Champions, airing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern U.S. time, on ESPN2.
“Major League Baseball has recognized the significance of fostering the growth of baseball in urban settings,” Mr. James said. “It is the mission of the Little League Urban Initiative to bring the benefits and opportunities of the Little League program to these communities, so that adults and children alike can reap the benefits of their involvement.”
On Aug. 24, 2003, during the Little League Baseball World Series, Major League Baseball announced it would provide a grant of $250,000 for the Urban Initiative. With this latest donation, Major League Baseball’s total contribution to the Urban Initiative will exceed $500,000.
“Little League Baseball shares the interests of Major League Baseball in providing baseball and softball opportunities for children in urban America, and we are extremely grateful for its generous support,” Mr. Keener said. “With this thoughtful donation to the Little League Urban Initiative, we are confident we can advance the great games of baseball and softball to many more children in urban areas."
Part of the grant is used to fund the annual Urban Initiative Jamboree, which welcomes 10 regular-season Little League teams from urban communities to Little League International for a weekend of fun and baseball. It also enables Little League to present Major League Baseball’s “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” educational program to the visiting teams. Breaking Barriers is an initiative created and operated for Major League Baseball by Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in half a century.
The Little League Urban Initiative provides assistance packages for eligible leagues that aid the local volunteer group with equipment acquisition, capital improvement cash grants, field development and renovation, access to Little League Baseball and Softball Education and Training programs, advocacy, and networking.
Because many of the Little League Urban Initiative leagues and independent organizations, operating in these environments face the same problems, networking opportunities are crucial to the growth of a volunteer-based organization. Little League encourages mentoring relationships with other Urban Initiative leagues, working toward positive relationships with the appropriate municipal agencies, developing an assessment of their program’s budgetary needs and concerns, and compiling a list of funding opportunities in their communities.
The Little League Urban Initiative has seen success in more than a 70 cities since it began in 2000. Notably, leagues in Houston, Atlanta, and Tampa are thriving, with thousands of children participating in Little League over the past five years. Little League provides a variety of clinics at its five regional centers in Bristol, Conn., St. Petersburg, Fla., Indianapolis, San Bernardino, Calif., and Waco, Texas, as well as Little League International in Williamsport.
The Little League Urban Initiative has recently renovated fields used by Little League programs in Tampa, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Through grants made available to the Little League Urban Initiative by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Major League Baseball, and Comcast Cable/The Comcast Foundation, the program plans to renovate or develop 15 fields over the next four years.
Currently, more than 125 local Little Leagues in the U.S. are part of the Urban Initiative. Through 2004, the program stimulated the addition of 144 teams and 2,100 players.
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.
Major League Baseball presented the Little League Urban Initiative with a $250,000 grant during the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Tom Brasuell (picture third from left), vice president of community affairs for Major League Baseball, was on hand to present the donation to David L. James (second from left), director of the Little League Urban Initiative, and Stephen D. Keener (far right), president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. This grant brings Major League Baseball’s total contribution to the Urban Initiative to more than $500,000. Pictured at left is Matthew Burton, marketing communications specialist for Major League Baseball.