Scott Yelle honors late son with donation to KC Urban Youth Academy

June 8th, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- On a Saturday morning in the summer, Kansas City’s Urban Youth Academy is busy. Kids from every age group are there playing baseball and softball and using every field and space available.

That makes the parking lot pretty full, but Scott Yelle was all for it.

“They were all worried where we were going to park,” Yelle said, laughing, about his Royals hosts on Saturday. “But that’s what I want to see, that it’s getting taken advantage of and it’s being used. It was very, very impressive.”

Yelle is in town Saturday as part of the Jackson Yelle Family Foundation, a non-profit honoring Scott’s late son, Jackson. Scott and Jackson had decided to visit all 30 ballparks together, but only got to 12 of them before Jackson died on April 30, 2023, after being hit by a car. He was 21 years old.

After his death, the Yelle family created the foundation to support Jackson’s legacy and continue to bring good into the world. And this season, Scott is visiting the 18 MLB ballparks that he and Jackson didn’t get to go to together.

As part of that tour, the foundation is donating $1,000 to each of the MLB Nike Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs connected to each team.

The Jackson Yelle Family Foundation's donation is going to the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy. Credit: Amy Kontras/Royals

In Kansas City, the money is going to the Urban Youth Academy, which hosts the Royals’ RBI program. Nike RBI is MLB’s youth outreach program that provides administrative, programmatic and infrastructural resources and support for organizations that provide baseball and/or softball programming with a focus on underserved kids and communities across the globe.

“The work the Jackson Yelle Family Foundation is doing is very important and very impactful,” said Donease Smith, the Royals’ UYA executive director of administration. “They had a tragedy in their lives, but they want to positively impact the youth in cities to continue Jackson’s legacy. We’re very happy and honored to receive the donation so that we can continue to pour into the youth of Kansas City.

“People use our Academy at no cost, so with this partnership and donation, it allows us to continue to utilize our facilities more, have the operating funds so that we can continue to do good in the community.”

Kauffman Stadium was ballpark No. 29 for Yelle and No. 17 of 18 on this season’s tour. Before attending Saturday’s Mariners-Royals game, Yelle got to see the UYA up close and all the activity it brings to the neighborhood.

Opened in 2018, the 38,000 square-foot facility features outdoor fields, classrooms, an athletic training room and an indoor field and batting tunnels. The UYA offers year-round baseball and softball programs, including the Royals RBI Baseball and Softball Leagues, and several clinics and camps that help develop and introduce athletes of all ages and skill levels.

“We walked away saying, ‘There should be 30 of these,’” Yelle said. “It was really quite special. It’s a place for kids to go. It’s a distraction from all the other things that kids can get in trouble with today, and it helps build self-esteem, confidence and playing sports. It was great to see it so busy.

“The fields are being used, but there are classrooms and educational things. The indoor part. There really should be 30 of them.”

Yelle, who was wearing a Royals jersey and his son’s Elon University baseball cap on Saturday, couldn’t be happier to keep Jackson’s legacy alive.

And the Royals were honored to be one of the recipients of the foundation’s donation while getting to show Yelle around the UYA and The K on Saturday.

“It’s bigger than baseball for us, and we just want to be a resource in the community,” Smith said. “Just to receive a donation in honor of someone who loved baseball as much as we do, and just helping the family as they go through the loss of a loved one, is important to us.”