Many of Major League Baseball's 30 current Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars hadn't yet entered the world when then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired No. 42 in honor of the foundation's namesake on April 15, 1997. But now, these scholars are carrying on the legacy of the man who broke baseball's color
Many of Major League Baseball's 30 current Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars hadn't yet entered the world when then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired No. 42 in honor of the foundation's namesake on April 15, 1997. But now, these scholars are carrying on the legacy of the man who broke baseball's color barrier nearly seven decades ago.
On Monday afternoon, 30 JRF scholars, most of whom are members of the Class of 2020 -- six of them at Ivy League schools -- arrived at the Commissioner's Office to partake in a lunch meeting and panel discussion with four MLB front-office members who, combined, own more than 50 years of league experience. Historically, MLB and its clubs have contributed more than $15 million to the Jackie Robinson Foundation for its scholarship program, and in 2016 the league committed to sponsoring 30 scholars, one for each team.
In a room full of aspiring civil engineers, doctors, lawyers and artists, panelist Renée Tirado, MLB's vice president of talent acquisition, diversity & inclusion, encouraged the scholars to gain a "diversity of experience" when pursuing their passions, whatever they might be.
"We're not experts across the board," added Bernadette McDonald, MLB's senior vice president of administration & broadcasting operations. "But as a team we work together."
"The Jackie Robinson Foundation is building well-rounded Major League citizens through education," echoed Thomas Brasuell, MLB's vice president of community affairs and educational programming. "This is part of what they call mentoring weekend. All of the scholars come to New York for different luncheons like today, where they learned the background of different MLB employees. They'll get some cultural experiences. They'll hear from other speakers. And then tonight they'll attend the annual Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Dinner."
According to Brasuell, Major League Baseball is the largest provider of JRF scholarships, which are awarded based on academic achievement and financial need. Now in its 45th year of existence, the Foundation is continuing its work to provide financial assistance and mentoring services to hundreds of highly motivated students across the country, several of whom have gone on to become MLB interns.
Brooke Porter, the Dodgers' JRF scholar, is one of those special students. A freshman at Duke University who's studying political science and education, Porter has aspirations to one day work in education policy herself.
"Coming here and hearing the words of advice that the panelists gave to us, the genuine desire to support and help us that their advice reflects, was really cool," Porter said. "There's so much love, support and empowerment. It really is a JRF family."
Allison Duffy-Davis is a contributor to MLB.com.