The Rays Baseball Foundation supports youth and educational programming that make a measurable difference in the Tampa Bay region. The Foundation has a special interest in serving at-risk populations throughout Tampa Bay. The Foundation strives to improve the quality of education, literacy and life skills training provided to youth in these areas by creating and supporting programming that meets their most critical needs.
The Rays have teamed up with local YMCA's, the United Way Suncoast, the Juvenile Welfare Board, the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, and 7-Eleven to encourage children and families to be water smart from the start. The program provides access to life-saving water safety programs to both children and their parents through their local YMCA's in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Learn More
In 2010, James and Ryane Shields, along with the Tampa Bay Rays, donated a suite to start a special club for foster kids called the Big Game James Club. In 2013, the Big Game James Club became the Home Run Club. Even though founders James and Ryane Shields are no longer members of the Tampa Bay Rays, their legacy of advocating for children in foster care lives on. The club continues to offer a sense of stability and belonging to hundreds of foster children and adoptive families throughout Tampa Bay. Each season, with the help of Eckerd, the Heart Gallery, Guardian ad Litem, Ready for Life, Family Resources and Starting Right, Now, over 100 foster children become club members and attend a series of home games in the suite. When the suite isn't being used for club kids, Eckerd and the Heart Gallery use the suite for special adoption events. The stadium also plays host to a permanent Heart Gallery exhibit, displaying professional portraits and personal biographies of children waiting to be adopted. The Home Run Club and Heart Gallery events hosted by the Rays have resulted in numerous adoptions for local foster children.
The Rays Jersey Program, presented by Suncoast Credit Union, provides Majestic Athletic jerseys and caps to over 10,000 Tee Ball players and coaches for more than 80 leagues. The uniforms include 18 variations of Rays colors and styles to give the region's young tee ballers a big league look. The annual savings from this signature program, as reported by the participating leagues, is estimated at $200,000. As a result of these savings, officials from some of the participating leagues have noted that they now have the ability to repair their scoreboards, provide paint upgrades to dugouts, add fencing for fields, fund new equipment purchases and grounds crew supplies, and repair concession stands and other facilities.
Since 2006, the Rays Baseball Foundation has teamed up with Suncoast Credit Union for the summer reading program Reading with the Rays-Read Your Way to the Ballpark. Reading with the Rays presented by Suncoast Credit Union, encourages kids to avoid summer reading loss by reading 24 hours over the summer months. More than 205,000 bay area students from nine surrounding counties, have participated in the program. Participating libraries track their progress and award prizes for reaching certain goals, including free tickets to a Rays game. Reading with the Rays spokesman Evan Longoria visits local libraries throughout the summer to speak to the kids about the importance of reading. The program is made possible through a partnership with Evan Longoria, Suncoast Credit Union, Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education, the Rays and public library systems in Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. Learn More
Since 2011, the Rays Baseball Foundation has partnered with the Poynter Institute to support the Write Field Program. The program was created in response to the staggering drop-out rates among male students in the South St. Petersburg area. The program hosts 30 middle school students for weekend seminars that discuss topics related to the journalism field. The Rays and Rays Baseball Foundation provide funding and support by offering experts in the sports industry who participate in workshops with the students throughout the nine month program.