DREAM, formerly known as Harlem RBI, hosted its 27th annual "Bids for Kids" fundraising gala Monday night at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City to help raise awareness about the nonprofit and celebrate its efforts to provide youth in the inner city with the chance to "play, learn and
DREAM, formerly known as Harlem RBI, hosted its 27th annual "Bids for Kids" fundraising gala Monday night at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City to help raise awareness about the nonprofit and celebrate its efforts to provide youth in the inner city with the chance to "play, learn and grow."
DREAM strived to raise $5 million to help continue to accomplish its goals. The organization walked away having amassed $5.2 million in donations.
"Huge night here at Cipriani," DREAM Executive Director Richard A. Berlin told MLB.com. "Much to celebrate and a lot of growth ahead."
The honoree from this year's event, Ron Moelis, helped garner the support to build the inaugural DREAM field on 1st Avenue and East 100th Street. The CEO and founding partner of L+M Development Partners Inc., Moelis is working on a new project in East Harlem -- another DREAM Charter School, which will welcome its first-ever high school class of students to the program, and 700 units of affordable housing on-site.
"I'm honored to be in the position I am in here with DREAM," Moelis said. "It's a great organization."
Founded in 1991, a cluster of volunteers who reconstructed an abandoned lot of land in East Harlem into two baseball fields for children, DREAM began as program to help inner-city kids get involved with baseball and softball. The organization now serves nearly 2,500 boys and girls annually by offering education and social services, in addition to baseball and softball programs.
What started as two baseball diamonds in East Harlem has blossomed into a well-rounded program for underserved youth that focuses on aiding the greater needs of the region -- such as low literacy and high school graduation rates through summer and after-school enrichment, according to the organization's website.
DREAM has plans to expand its product even further, venturing outside the borders of New York City by opening up a facility in Newark, N.J., in 2017, which is part of the reason it changed its name from "Harlem RBI" to "DREAM."
"It's a big year for us," Berlin said.
Former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was in attendance, along with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who will soon be joining the three-time All-Star on the DREAM board of directors.
"[DREAM] does unbelievable work in an area that is of particular importance to us, an area that's underserved and wouldn't have baseball-playing opportunities otherwise," Manfred said. "There's great diversity in their program and so it hits a number of themes that are really important to us."
Teixeira, who has served on the board since 2010, is hoping to see DREAM continue to spread and help kids in need.
"Just keep building, keep helping kids," Teixeira said of his aspirations for the program. "Helping kids in New York, going to other markets … maybe go into some other places in the Tri-State area, up and down the East Coast. Be able to bring our model of success to other kids all over the country eventually."
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.