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Foundation for Educating a Salvadoran

Opportunities through baseball in El Salvador
MLB.com

About Foundation for Educating a Salvadoran

Foundation for Educating a Salvadoran (FESA) was established in 2001 to provide educational assistance for youth with limited resources and high potential in sports. In 2002, FESA began with four minor baseball teams growing to 20 currently. FESA is very competitive and is the main source of players for the national team, with more than 10 players in the Major League Baseball system. FESA has strong ties with the National Federation of Baseball of El Salvador (FEDEBEIS) and the MLB Dominican Republic office.

About Foundation for Educating a Salvadoran

Foundation for Educating a Salvadoran (FESA) was established in 2001 to provide educational assistance for youth with limited resources and high potential in sports. In 2002, FESA began with four minor baseball teams growing to 20 currently. FESA is very competitive and is the main source of players for the national team, with more than 10 players in the Major League Baseball system. FESA has strong ties with the National Federation of Baseball of El Salvador (FEDEBEIS) and the MLB Dominican Republic office.

FESA's Field Renovation Projects To support FESA's efforts to increase the number of players served by its programs, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) awarded a $19,000 grant to FESA in 2004 for renovations at Don Bosco Stadium located at Don Bosco School in Soyapango as well as equipment and uniforms to support the program. In 2017, BTF awarded $41,294 to FESA for the renovation of the baseball field in El Cafetalón, a multi-sport park in the Santa Tecla.

Q&A with the president of FESA, Jorge Bahaia, Jr.

Tell us about yourself (current position and history with your organization, when did you get involved or become interested in baseball/softball, etc.)

I've been blessed and lucky all my life. When I was a Kid my father introduced me to the game of Baseball and played little league all the way to the National Team. Then I retired to promote Baseball in El Salvador, because I am convinced that it is one of the best sports to teach the youngsters virtues and values that help them when they are adults. I started as a coach, then as a Manager, then as a Treasurer of the National Federation, and finally as President.

After I finished my period as President, with a group of professionals we found FESA (Fundación Educando a un Salvadoreño) with the Idea of helping the baseball Teenagers with academic scholarships and professional training, so they could keep playing baseball instead of dropping out of the game and school because they had to help their parents with a job. We started FESA with 3 employees, helping 25 kids. Now we have 84 employees and help around 5000 kids a year in all our programs.

Tell us about your organization.

FESA was founded in 2001 with the purpose of changing children's life through an integral formation that combines academic education, teaching of values and sport practice. The Foundation has four components:
1. Physical Education and values Program for public schools
2. Linking talented children to National Sport Federations
3. Specialized School for High Performance athletes
4. Program of University Scholarships and job opportunities in sport fields for graduated students.

Currently FESA benefits more than 5,000 children. We have assisted more than fifteen Public schools and provided more than 40,000 attentions during last year with our Physical Education and values program for public schools. With the support of BTF we have remodeled the Cafetalon's baseball field. FESA has also created the School for High Performance athletes, which is the first of its kind in Latin America and currently teaches 220 students ( Best Girls and boys from 24 different sport federations and members of national teams).

Our Baseball Academy has also achieved 11 professional contracts for youngsters as baseball players in MLB, one of them is Erasmo Ramírez, currently Seattle Mariners right-handed pitcher. At the age of 12, Ramírez attended FESA´s Specialized School for High Performance Athletes in El Salvador and trained in FESA's Baseball Academy until signing a professional contract with a MLB organization. In the 2018 season, Erasmo will earn 4.2 million dollars, becoming the third best-paid Nicaraguan in MLB.

Describe your organization's staff structure (i.e. paid staff, volunteers, board members).

FESA's organization has 7 board members and 84 collaborators who are divided in different areas: School, Physical Education Program, Baseball, Soccer, Marketing, Communication, Operations and Administration. FESA also have internship programs agreed with some universities that eventually provide us support for specific tasks and projects.

Briefly explain how your organization primarily funds its annual operating budget.

We have three kinds of income:
1. Personal Donors
2. Sponsorships
3. Income generated from Entrepreneurship activities (i.e. facility rental, tournaments, fundraising events.)

What was the biggest challenge during the project?

The biggest challenge of this [Santa Tecla] project was to coordinate efforts with Municipality, the Community representative, City Hall authorities, National Baseball Federation and Building Contractor to carry on a project oriented to benefit Santa Tecla's young population, and expand the knowledge of the game of Baseball In El Salvador.

How did the project affect your program?

This project has been very important for our programs since it has created opportunities to develop the Physical Education Programs. The Project also has the added value to motivate children to keep attending school, reduce absenteeism, increase academic performance and work as a violence prevention tool.

This project will positively affect the baseball practice in El Salvador, since more children will learn the sport, will practice it and the passion for ball game will be increased and in the future surely we will have good prospects graduating from this field and obtaining College Scholarship and signing professional contracts with MLB clubs.

What would you do differently with the project?

Not too much, the project has been carried out in a good and clean way and now we only need to follow up the plan that the new Committee in charge is going to execute to obtain the results we all want.

What's next for your organization?

Promote baseball in the Physical Education Program and identify potential talents for a new baseball Academy in Santa Tecla. We want to include this new baseball Academy in National Federation tournaments.

What advice would you give to others involved in the operation of a youth baseball/softball organization?

It is hard to give advice but below some things that have worked for us:

1. Try to maximize the capacity of the field with the amount of Young kids playing baseball.
2. Hire good quality human coaches so they motivate the kids to learn baseball and use it for educating and entertaining themselves.
3. At the same time you are teaching the game of baseball, promote values and incentive the kids for academic achievement, so they will become better citizens.
4. Don't discriminate between girls and boys or with the one that have more talent. For those that show talent, you make a special program so they can develop all their potential and be the motivation for others.
5. Have a good, transparent financial and operative administration so you can obtain more funds because people will trust in what you are doing. With more funds you will impact more youngsters every year.

Learn more at http://donativos.fesaelsalvador.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/fesaelsalvador/.