The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) will launch Dodgers RBI Saturday, May 3 with Dodgers RBI PlayerFest presented by Bank of America from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Dodger Stadium. More than 1,000 children ages 5-18 who will participate in Dodgers RBI this season through City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks, Boys and Girls Club of Venice and the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton will be in attendance. Dodgers RBI will serve 11 locations in some of the most under-resourced areas throughout Los Angeles and is comprised of 185 teams and nearly 400 coaches.
Prior to the event, the youngsters will receive a warm welcome on DodgerVision from Dodger owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Dodger players Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Matt Kemp, Brandon League, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke, who pre-recorded video messages for Dodgers RBI. Crawford is a Houston RBI alumnus and has pledged support of Dodgers RBI throughout the season.
"MLB's RBI progam started in South Los Angeles and we felt it was incumbent to strategically rebuild and create a comprehensive program," said LADF Executive Director Nichol Whiteman. "We are thrilled with our renewed commitment to youth baseball in L.A.'s underserved communities and look forward to the future of Dodgers RBI which will have a significant impact in the LA community."
"We are proud to share in the work of Commissioner Selig and MLB's on-field Diversity Task Force," said Dodger Owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson. "Dodgers RBI is built on the belief that making baseball accessible to inner-city youth can make a difference on the field, at school, in the community and in these youngsters' futures. I want to congratulate all of our Dodgers RBI players, wish them the best of luck and let them know the Dodgers look forward to sharing in their success."
All youngsters in attendance will receive Dodger tickets, be outfitted in Dodger RBI uniforms courtesy of LADF and Bank of America, be served Dodger Dogs and bottled water, courtesy of Farmer John and Avita. Dodgers RBI youth will have access to a number of activities, including the following: on-site eye screenings from Vision to Learn, Up2Us' team building activities, a pep rally, warm-up led by Camelback Ranch-Glendale strength and conditioning coaches, Kids Run the Bases, pitching inflatable in the Dodgers' bullpen, Dodgers RBI parade around the field, Dodger Mathletics, autographs from Dodger Alumni League members, various giveaways such as practice t-shirts, sweatbands and photos from partners including Bank of America, Power 106 and Blueprint photos. Additionally, Dodger Mathletics, a Dodgers RBI off-field program, will incentivize youngsters to complete the Dodgers Mathletics workbook during the course of the season. Dodgers RBI will also include as a program Coaches Skills Training, by LA84 Foundation and former USC baseball player Jake Alba.
"Bank of America is proud to continue its longtime partnership with the Dodgers, especially when it supports programs like this one that provides services and leadership skills to kids from underserved communities who may lack access to these important life-building resources," said Raul A. Anaya, Los Angeles market president, Bank of America. "We have more than 80 Bank of America volunteers assisting with the launch of Dodgers RBI, but more importantly, they will be onsite to help make this a day to remember for these boys and girls."
"Vision To Learn is excited to expand our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to provide eye exams and free glasses to kids participating in RBI," said Vision To Learn founder, Austin Beutner. "This partnership will allow us to reach more kids in the LA area and provide needed glasses to help them succeed in school, life and their sports endeavors."
"Up2Us is thrilled to participate in the Dodgers RBI PlayerFest for the launch of the Dodgers RBI program this season," commented Angela Hucles, Los Angeles regional director at Up2Us. "It is critical that opportunities and access to sports exist for all youth and we believe that sport participation allows for healthy youth development and life skills lessons that are helpful both on and off the field."
The RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, which is in its 26th year of operation and began in Los Angeles, is administered by Major League Baseball and is designed to give young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic achievement and success, and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. RBI currently serves more than 220,000 young men and women in more than 300 programs established in approximately 200 cities worldwide. MLB and its Clubs have designated more than $30 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues. For more information about the RBI program and the RBI World Series, please visit MLB.com/rbi.
Dodgers RBI is a comprehensive, urban youth baseball program for boys and girls, ages 5-18. Working together with local organizations, parents and volunteers, Dodgers RBI currently offers 2,400 youth the opportunity to learn and enjoy the games of baseball and softball with special emphasis on education, recreation and healthy habits for young people. Dodgers RBI is a cornerstone program of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. LADF provides uniforms and equipment, recruitment assistance, cash grants and education/health resources to all teams. Additionally, Dodgers RBI will provide resources to ensure increased participation by youth ages 13-18 and place special emphasis on African- Americans. Dodgers RBI is part of MLB's RBI program. The RBI program has provided a path for many players to enter the college and professional game. Alumni of LA RBI who currently play in the Majors are Coco Crisp (Oakland A's) and James McDonald (Chicago Cubs).
This year, Dodgers RBI will play host to the inaugural MLB Jr. RBI Showcase Classic and the MLB RBI West Regional Tournament. The Dodgers will play host to the Angels and Padres RBI for the Showcase Classic and six multiple teams for the Regional Tournament with teams from Seattle, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Arizona, San Diego and Hawaii expected to compete for a chance to win a berth to the 2014 RBI World Series in Arlington/Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
In 2013, LADF commissioned a full assessment of youth baseball in underserved communities. Results identified the existing Dodgers RBI Expansion Zone centered in South Los Angeles (Pico Union to the north, Long Beach to the south, Inglewood to the west and Compton to the east). The assessment also helped to draft a program that took into account many of the key challenges to RBI programs previously in Los Angeles, directed LADF on the key assets needed by youth and their families to play and develop and guided LADF on the best strategic vision, which is to reach 10,000 youngsters more than three years and provide a comprehensive, quality program for youth and their coaches.