Introduced in 2009 and holding its 14th edition in 2023 (including a pause in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic), the Yankees' HOPE Week initiative (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.
On each of five consecutive days during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Each day is designed so honorees can share their inspirational stories with Yankees players, fans and the media, while being surprised with the day of their dreams. Though each day's celebration ultimately culminates with a visit to Yankee Stadium on the day of a game, outreach typically takes place at a location in the community that symbolizes the accomplishments of the honoree.
HOPE Week in the News
HOPE Week has been the subject many local, national and international news stories since its inception. Here is a small selection of highlights from over the years:
- CBS Evening News: Gwen Goldman Fulfills Dream of Becoming Yankees Bat Girl 60 Years After Writing the Team
- ESPN: Yankees provide help for bullying victim
- NBC Nightly News: “Making a Difference”
- CNN: Yankees help Haitian refugee children with HOPE
- MLB Network: This is HOPE Week - Celebrating 10 Inspirational Years
The Yankees have been proud to announce the dates of each year's HOPE Week at a kickoff event at George M. Steinbrenner Field during Spring Training. The announcement also provides an opportunity to honor a local individual or institution that is doing great works in the Tampa Bay area, which is the Yankees' spring home.
At its core, HOPE Week is about people helping people. The one thing everybody has - no matter where they come from, what their financial situation is or what kind of skills they possess - is time. By involving every one of our players and coaches, Manager Aaron Boone, General Manager Brian Cashman and the entire front office staff during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place.
Equally significant during HOPE Week is garnering publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.
Implementing the Initiative
The Yankees' HOPE Week initiative is an organizational effort, integrating players, coaches, the Yankees front office, dozens of sponsors and some of New York's most iconic social and corporate institutions.
The 2023 season marks the 10th year that each of the Yankees' U.S.-based affiliates have held their own HOPE Weeks, truly making this initiative one that the entire organization stands behind in words and in action.
The initial phase of HOPE Week planning involves the selection of the honorees. In order to draw on the most diverse and inspiring group possible, an online nomination form is made available to the public on yankees.com. Additionally, the Yankees Media Relations Department reviews general fan mail and independently reaches out to other public social institutions to find exceptional individuals to recognize.
HOPE Week is designed to be an event that fans look forward to every year. Throughout the five-day stretch of games, the HOPE Week narrative is woven into the Yankees' on-field activities. Honorees are treated like members of the team, joining players and coaches next to the hitting cage during batting practice and on the field after victories for celebratory high fives. They also participate in traditional pregame festivities, including ceremonial first pitches and the exchange of team lineup cards. Most importantly, all are given a platform to tell their inspiring stories in their own voices.
Each of the five honorees during HOPE Week is given a day of their dreams, complete with surprise elements involving Yankees players, dignitaries and celebrities. Throughout the entire process, local, national and international media are given the opportunity to film, record and report on events to allow for comprehensive storytelling over a complete range of media platforms. The goal is to give these exemplary individuals the largest possible audience to hear their inspirational messages.
All events are designed to generate attention and raise the profile of serious social issues affecting our nation and the world. Beyond getting these stories into the mainstream media, the Yankees organization looks to reward honorees for their fortitude in the face of adversity.
The attention that HOPE Week has brought to different causes and charities has changed lives permanently for the better. Since being honored during the 2011 celebration, Daniel's Music Foundation (DMF) — which provides free therapeutic music instruction to those with disabilities — has grown from a program serving 150 local individuals to an organization providing more than 3,000 people around the country with programming through a combination of in-person education at its new state-of-the-art, barrier-free music studio, online classes and events, and satellite programs in Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Houston. The group’s HOPE Week Day was highlighted by a concert performance that included its members and Yankees players at a packed Brooks Atkinson Theater on Broadway. Co-Founder Ken Trush explained, "When I looked at the audience that day, I realized what we could be."
YANKEES RECEIVE PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD
At the conclusion of every HOPE Week since 2010, the Yankees have been honored with the President's Volunteer Service Award, given "in recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening the nation and for making a difference through volunteer service." The awards are bestowed by AmeriCorps, which empowers Americans from all backgrounds to answer the President's Call to Service.
The Yankees are proud that the Minnesota Twins have been inspired to hold their own annual HOPE Week since 2011. Other organizations and community groups, including Southern Boulevard School Elementary school in Chatham Township, N.J., have also begun similar HOPE-themed projects to give back in their respective communities. In 2014 and 2015, each grade at Southern Boulevard School took on a different service initiative, inspired by the notion that no one is too young to begin giving back.
In addition to bringing attention to the honorees' inspirational endeavors, the Yankees have made significant donations to not-for-profit organizations every time a HOPE Week honoree has received recognition.