CINCINNATI -- Efforts to boost underserved communities in need by the Reds Community Fund were recognized on Friday, when the Reds were named the recipient of the 2023 Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence by Major League Baseball.
The honor recognized the RCF's Reds Community Makeover program, which has invested more than $11 million via cash or in-kind support to urban and suburban communities in Greater Cincinnati since 2010.
Former Reds first baseman Sean Casey, now with MLB Network, presented the Selig Award to Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini and Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank on stage before fans during Redsfest on Friday night.
"I'm really happy for our entire organization and so happy for the Castellinis," Frank said. "From Day 1, all they've done is break down barriers for us and make connections for us and really work in the trenches with us. Their interest in the work that we do is so genuine. This is a big moment for everyone in the organization."
MLB specifically highlighted the recent community makeover performed in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. Founded in 1946, and currently a village of about 3,300 residents, Lincoln Heights was the first African American self-governing community established north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The project, which included seven different sites that received makeovers, had nearly 500 corporate and marketing volunteers from local companies that included Procter and Gamble, the Cincinnati Zoo, GE Aerospace and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“The Reds Community Makeover program exemplifies the tremendous impact our Clubs are making in their communities,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “I congratulate the Castellinis and the entire Reds Community Fund for this well-earned recognition. We are proud to celebrate their efforts through our MLB Together platform.”
The GE campus is located in Evendale, just across Interstate 75 from Lincoln Heights, and it provided institutional knowledge of the area. The zoo donated dozens of trees and hundreds of perennial plants along with horticultural support. The village of Lincoln Heights also fundraised six-figure dollars via Hamilton County and other partners.
At Lincoln Heights Elementary, the school received a solar energy field that powers its STEM lab -- a facility that is used by more than 200 students daily. Murals were also completed in the lab and cafeteria.
The Lincoln Heights Health Center had a new "mother's room" created to host the Centering/Pregnancy program, which brings a group of women due at the same time out of the exam room and into a comfortable group setting.
At Lincoln Heights Outreach Inc., building upgrades included a new food pantry that serves 150 families per week and a senior citizens programming space. There was a complete redesign and renovation of Serenity Park, which now holds year-round events including concerts, movie nights and theater productions. There is also play space for local children and safe places for citizens of all ages to walk, ride bikes and more.
Sister Ann's Courtyard saw the transformation of an unused space into an outdoor garden and courtyard. A new "teen room" was established at St. Monica's Center to provide a safe space for teenagers.
The Memorial Field Athletic Complex also received upgrades to landscaping, entry ways, a concession building, playground and ballfields.
Other finalists for the Selig Award were the Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins and Pirates.