The Kansas City Royals have been named recipient of the 2021 “Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence,” Major League Baseball announced today. The honor recognizes the Club’s “Response to Recovery” effort that utilized the Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy as a community resource to provide educational support for youth as well as access to voting and COVID-19 vaccinations. The effort was specifically aimed for residents where the Urban Youth Academy is located in the 18th & Vine District, a predominantly African-American community that was one of the pandemic’s most affected areas in the city.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically during the spring and summer of 2020, the Royals raised a considerable amount of funds and resources through their “Royals Respond Fund” to provide the greater Kansas City community with (a) more than 500,000 meals, (b) grants to 17 nonprofit organizations and (c) volunteers to support local organizations on the front lines addressing issues related to COVID-19. To further their efforts in 2021, the Royals directed their attention to impacting one of the most under-served area in Kansas City, the 18th & Vine District community.
Through “Response to Recovery,” the Royals focused on utilizing their Urban Youth Academy in ways than transcend its purpose as a hub for youth baseball and softball.
The Academy offered an in-person Distance Learning Program to high school and middle school students throughout the school year that access to a safe environment for learning, meals, internet access and volunteer educators. It also prevented job disruptions for parents and guardians.
• This past summer, the Academy hosted a Summer Learning Program designed to prevent “summer slide” for students who are at risk of falling behind in reading and math.
• On average, U.S. students this past spring were five months behind in math and four months behind in reading (according to McKinsey & Co.). Students who completed the Royals Urban Youth Academy’s Summer Learning Program were ahead of the national average and prepared to start the 2021-2022 school year on pace in reading and a six-month-gain in math.
• Also made available online STEM curriculum for math and science teachers to help them ease the burden of developing new ways to teach and engage their students. The Academy was able to serve twice the number of students in their STEM programs.
• Additionally, the Urban Youth Academy served as a community center that offered equitable access to both voting and COVID-19 vaccinations. Through this effort, the Urban Youth Academy became a polling site, hosting more than 1,300 voters, each of whom received a free meal as part of their participation. The Royals also partnered with a local healthcare center to provide more than 4,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate John Sherman and the entire Kansas City Royals organization for this well-earned recognition of service to their community,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “Their efforts provide a model on how organizations can make a meaningful impact in under-served areas that were the most negatively affected by the pandemic. I am especially thankful for their support of the 18th & Vine District, a special place for our sport that houses both the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Royals Urban Youth Academy. Philanthropy is a cornerstone of baseball’s connections to our communities. I commend the Royals and all our Clubs for all that they do year-round to give back to those most in need.”
“Our entire organization is humbled by this award, especially as all 30 MLB clubs do impactful work in our communities,” said John Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Royals. “I am grateful for the commitment and passion of our associates, and am inspired by their resiliency. There is much more to do. The work continues, with gratitude for the opportunity to support the region we love.”
The Royals were selected by a distinguished panel who assessed the Club’s ability to address or respond to an important community need or problem; produce desired community impact and outcomes; and the efforts that have had a significant impact in the community. Club Finalists for the 2021 Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence (as well as their programs or causes), included the following: 2021 World Champion Atlanta Braves (“Home Plate Project”/food insecurity), Chicago White Sox (White Sox A.C.E. program/access to baseball for at-risk youth), Washington Nationals (Nationals Youth Baseball Academy/”PLAY + Hustle” campaign), Chicago Cubs (Utilizing Wrigley Field for COVID-19 Relief), Los Angeles Dodgers (“Dodgers Feed LA” program/food insecurity), Miami Marlins (“Great Minds-Great Athletes” program/mental health and wellness), San Diego Padres (Padres Covid Response/food insecurity and vaccine access) and the Tampa Bay Rays (variety of efforts to address food insecurity in Tampa Bay region). For more information, please visit: MLB.com/Selig-Award.