The Chicago Cubs are honored to nominate outfielder Jason Heyward for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award. While Jason’s on-field performance during his 11-year professional baseball career has resulted in numerous accolades, including National League All-Star, World Series champion and five-time Gold Glove Award winner, Jason’s off-field commitment to social justice and efforts to address societal inequities are among his greatest achievements.
Selected in the 2007 MLB Draft out of high school by the Atlanta Braves, Jason began his career in baseball as well as in service to the community at the age of 17, giving back to the church and the young men of Atlanta through L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). Throughout his career, Jason has quietly and humbly made an indelible impact in under-resourced communities by offering his generous support to address food insecurity, violence prevention and youth development. He has also often lent his influential voice to speak out against historic racial injustice.
During the pandemic, Jason contributed to several nonprofit organizations providing resources to Chicago communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Jason provided $100,000 to MASK (Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings), a nonprofit violence prevention organization; $100,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository; and $100,000 to the University of Chicago Medical Center for support of their health care workers and the patients and families who were affected by COVID-19.
Jason has proudly been an active member of the Players Alliance, directly participating in several Chicago-based events; providing contributions exceeding $270,000 to support the Alliance’s nationwide tour to provide more than 20,000 families with food and supplies; and supporting the distribution of baseball equipment to children across the country. In April 2022, Jason and other MLB players donated their salaries from Jackie Robinson Day to support inner-city and rural baseball teams.
In the summer of 2020, Jason contributed $75,000 to convert a liquor store into a food mart in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, which was impacted by protests and looting. It is through this initiative that Jason learned about By the Hand Club’s plans to build a multi-sport and education facility in the Austin community. In the summer of 2021, Jason made a significant financial contribution to this capital project to create the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy, a sports training and leadership development program for children and youth that will be housed in the new facility. Jason will serve as the director of the Academy and will be personally involved in the curriculum and program development. The doors are scheduled to open in 2023.
Jason has been a vocal advocate for More Than a Vote, Lebron James’ nonprofit established to encourage voter registration among African Americans ahead of the 2020 presidential election; provided dollars to the Muslim American Leadership Alliance to provide meals during Ramadan; mentored young people virtually to connect with the next generation of Black baseball players and leaders; and served as an ambassador for the Gear for Good Initiative to provide equipment donations.
Throughout Jason’s time with the Cubs, he has been a prominent contributor to Cubs Charities, with more than $166,000 in donations, including support for Cubs RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), MLB’s youth outreach program dedicated to increasing participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth. In addition, Jason has contributed more than $95,000 to fellow Cubs player foundations and community efforts, demonstrating his commitment to his teammates.
Jason’s actions and leadership reflect his passion for the game, his team and for the causes closest to his heart. His commitment to addressing the inequities that communities of color face daily, coupled with his generous support of the nonprofit sector and his passionate leadership as a member of the Cubs, make Jason a strong candidate for the Roberto Clemente Award.