MLB extends partnership, commits $3.5M to JRF

Funding will support scholarship program, museum, ROBIE Awards

August 28th, 2020

Major League Baseball and all 30 of its clubs are celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, a day that bears historical significance in relation to the Robinson family and the social justice activism that is a focal point of the baseball icon’s legacy.

Aug. 28 is the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson family -- Jackie, Rachel and their children -- attended. It is also the date in 1945 when Robinson met with Branch Rickey to discuss Robinson's future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In conjunction with planned on-field celebrations to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, MLB announced a partnership extension through 2023 with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which includes $3.5 million to support JRF’s Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards.

The majority of funding will benefit the scholarship program, which provides four-year college scholarships to minority students selected from across the country each year based on academic achievement, leadership capacity and financial need, and comprehensive support services, including career guidance, practical life skills training and job placement for JRF Scholars.

“We are thrilled with MLB’s ongoing support for JRF and their commitment to education and leadership development,” said Sharon Robinson, an MLB education ambassador and Robinson’s daughter. “The partnership between JRF and MLB is critical during these times. JRF scholars and alum are leaders who return to their communities and make a difference.”

Additional support will go toward the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City that will chronicle Robinson’s storied athletic career and his long-lasting impact across society on-site, once the Museum opens, and virtually. To date, Major League Baseball has committed $2 million to the Museum.

“Our longstanding partnership with the Jackie Robinson Foundation has given us the opportunity to support more than 150 students, many of whom are on their way to becoming leaders of their respective industries,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We welcome the newest class of JRF Scholars to this program as they take their first steps toward successful academic and professional careers.

“We are also thrilled to expand our contributions to the Jackie Robinson Museum. Jackie has inspired generations, including current players, to stand up for their beliefs and to speak out against injustice. This important aspect of his legacy will be remembered this year on Jackie Robinson Day.”

MLB’s funding will support 30 JRF Scholars from the 2020-21 academic year through 2023-24. Additionally, MLB and JRF will place a specific emphasis on offering JRF Scholars the opportunity to participate in an eight-week internship program at the Commissioner’s Office, with a minimum goal of three JRF Scholar internships per year.

On the field, teams will honor Robinson’s legacy in a similar manner as they do when they’re able to salute Robinson on April 15 each year, commemorating the day the Hall of Famer debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke baseball’s color barrier.

All players, managers, coaches, umpires and other on-field personnel will wear Jackie’s No. 42.

Additional visibility of Jackie’s iconic “42” will include a commemorative sleeve patch for all on-field personnel, team color patch on New Era caps, Stance socks and base jewels.

Jackie Robinson Day caps an emotional week in baseball, highlighted by a call from players for social justice reform and an end to police brutality, in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

Players throughout the industry spoke out this week against racial injustice, and 10 games were postponed over two days, as a show of solidarity among players who joined in protest.

The week has, in many ways, been reflective of Robinson’s legacy, and the ideals he espoused throughout his life. Robinson was more than a ballplayer -- he was a civil rights activist, and one of the most outspoken advocates of his generation.

“I am very encouraged by the team reactions and the players’ reactions,” said Sharon Robinson, who posted a supportive tweet earlier in the day. “That’s why I woke up this morning and wanted to send out an encouraging message to the players. They’ve really put themselves out front and that’s new, for the players from the various leagues to organize together. They each did it in their own ways. I just wanted to encourage them, to let them know that the family is supportive of their actions and together, we have hope and believe we can make change.”

“The events of recent days, weeks and months serve as a stark and unfortunate reminder that Jackie Robinson’s fight for racial equality in our society endures,” Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. “As we recognize his legacy today, players of all races and backgrounds join together to continue the work of Jackie and all of the civil rights leaders who suffered and sacrificed before and after him so that all of our children can one day grow up in a society that offers genuine equality -- free of fear, free of discrimination and free to pursue their dreams.

“The Players Association is committed to support our players in the effort to achieve these important goals both in society and in our sport.”

MLB revealed several activities that will be presented online throughout the day Friday. Custom, original Jackie-inspired content will appear across MLB’s social media accounts (MLB, Cut4, PlayBall, MajorLeagueLife, MLBDevelops, LasMayores), focusing on Jackie’s legacy as an outspoken advocate for civil rights and the pursuit of equality and justice.

Content will also highlight on-field personnel donning No. 42. In addition, Jackie Robinson-related graphics and custom content will be shared with players via MLB’s player social program. A special video that celebrates Jackie’s life and social advocacy legacy away from the diamond, “4 Us 2 Remember” is a central highlight of social activity on Jackie Robinson Day.

MLB Network’s studio programming on Friday features a special essay narrated by Sharon Robinson. She speaks about her father’s legacy, the significance of Jackie Robinson Day and how Robinson would approach today’s civil unrest.

Three-time All-Star and president of the Players Alliance Curtis Granderson will discuss Robinson’s legacy with Network analyst Harold Reynolds on MLB Tonight, and there will be a tribute to Robinson throughout its two MLB Network Showcase games -- a doubleheader between the Mets and Yankees, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.