Minor League Baseball Diversity Initiative
Youth Leadership Academy
In the summer of 2011, Minor League Baseball held a Youth Leadership Academy at Vero Beach Sports Village for at-risk youth between the ages of 13-15. The event combined the history, principles and structure of the sport of baseball and provided an opportunity for participating youth to develop and master leadership and life skills.
The concept was simple but the impact significant; this program engaged participants in a once-in-a-lifetime experience provided through Minor League Baseball Charities. Eight MiLB teams worked with local organizations to identify youth they felt would benefit from this opportunity. Thirty-one (31) youth and eight chaperones representing the following clubs participated in the inaugural academy, with all expenses paid by Minor League Baseball Charities: Albuquerque Isotopes, Brooklyn Cyclones, Iowa Cubs, Lexington Legends, New Britain Rock Cats, New Orleans Zephyrs, Omaha Storm Chasers and Tri-City ValleyCats. During this experience participants engaged in a variety of programming including team building, communication, civic responsibility and service, interpersonal development, creative expression and field trips, as well as heard from a range of influential speakers in the world of baseball and beyond.
Featured speakers included Sharon Robinson, author, educational consultant and daughter of Jackie Robinson; Branch Rickey, Pacific Coast League President and grandson of Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers; Dr. Ishmail Conway, chairman of Mass Communications Department at Virginia State University and motivational speaker on student leadership, child advocacy, community development and African-American culture; Tim Flanagan, author and owner/lead consultant at Flanagan Custom Leadership Solutions; Virginia Flanagan, teacher and prevention expert who specializes in conflict management, communication, goal setting, problem solving and perspective taking; and Florida A&M student B.K. Jackson, an energetic 20-year-old saxophone sensation who has received numerous awards and has opened for many nationally renowned artists.
The catalyst for the Youth Leadership Academy was a similar program executed in 2010 through the city of New Orleans. Activities for the New Orleans group included the importance of education, health and wellness, as well as a special session with Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, about "Breaking Barriers" and overcoming challenges in life, which was also part of the Minor League Baseball Youth Leadership Academy.
The Academy served to enhance and enrich the participants' academic achievements, exposed participants to life skills, positive peer development, career opportunities, personal development and health and wellness. The program not only promoted their future through individual growth, but also built their résumé and provided exposure to experiences encouraged for college entrance.
Long Ball Program
The Long Ball Program is an inner-city baseball program for young men ages 13-18 overseen by volunteers and coaches. Approximately 120 young men in the program receive instruction both on and off the baseball diamond. Minor League Baseball supports the Long Ball Program and urged for the addition of academic support services provided by the program to participants. Players sign a Player Academic-Tutoring Contract to join the program and must adhere to certain standards of conduct when on the field of play.
In addition to conditioning clinics and drills offered to sharpen their baseball skills, seminars focusing on computer skills, health awareness, life-skills and the importance of academics are provided for the Long Ball Program participants.
For more information regarding the Long Ball Program, please visit www.longballdurham.com.
Minor League Baseball clubs are integral parts of their communities. They establish meaningful relationships with their fellow citizens and pride themselves on providing assistance in times of need, especially after natural disasters, such as tornadoes or floods have affected their community. Clubs also partner with local entities on initiatives to help the underserved.