The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation worked ardently to adapt to the challenges that 2020 brought and found ways to serve the needs of Los Angeles. Their efforts were recognized when they won the Beyond Sport’s 2020 Sport for Reduced Racial Inequalities Collective Impact Awards.
LADF was one of four recipients of the award, the foundation will work with PeacePlayers, America SCORES, and Memphis Inner City Rugby to create programing that will cure injustices and racism.
During a year where the Dodgers win the World Series, the achievements that LADF earned makes CEO Nichol Whiteman feel this year was a World Series year for the foundation.
“I always say partnership is the secret sauce to our success,” Whiteman said. “It’s not just ‘here you go, you get this award’… but it means a whole lot more than that because we have this newfound collaboration.”
During their 25 years in existence, the LADF has refurbished 51 baseball fields into Dodgers DreamFields, they can be found throughout Los Angeles. Through their Dodgers RBI program, LADF has mentored 10,292 youth by teaching life lessons through baseball and softball.
When the COVID-19 forced Dodgers RBI participants to stay at home, LADF provided virtual workouts and hosted food drive-thrus so the youth can get free food, snacks, and Dodgers gear. To celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the Negro Leagues, LADF partnered with the Inglewood Baseball Fund to host a virtual forum with Dodgers general manager Dave Roberts and former player Jerry Hairston jr. They honored the legacy of Jackie Robinson by hosting a week of virtual panels.
LADF also hosted an auction with all the proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization that fights against mass incarceration. Among their programming was a career panel for students of Historically Black Colleges.
“We needed that Jackie Robinson Day, we needed that Negro League Day to really help us to drove home the message of the importance of our Black icons,” Whiteman said. “Although we celebrated things differently this year, I think that virtually, you get an opportunity to expose even more people who may not have been at the Jackie Robinson celebration at the stadium.”
Dodgers players even contributed to their efforts. While they were working towards a World Series Title, right fielder Mookie Betts and pitcher Clayton Kershaw partnered with LADF to provide to those in need.
Betts and Pull Up Neighbor to provided food, hygiene supplies, voter registration and health screenings in Compton. Kershaw and Shoes That Fit donated new shoes to 800 families in Watts. Whiteman noted how the foundation wants to continue working with the players to further serve Black and Brown communities.
“It was important for us to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ our players were right there with with us, our white players said unapologetically ‘Black Lives Matter,’” she said. “They were there to support their teammate Mookie Betts as well as to show up for organizations that we on the foundation side were supporting throughout the city.”
LADF also won the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year this year. For more information about Beyond Sport, visit http://www.beyondsport.org/Home.