Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $2,000,000)
This program supports the enhancement or expansion of initiatives that will help communities develop or improve mentoring programs for at-risk or high-risk populations that are underserved due to location, shortage of mentors, special physical or mental challenges of the targeted population, or other analogous situations that the community identifies. Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation (CRSF) uses the vehicle of team sports, specifically baseball, as a common activity to connect underserved youth ages 9-14 with mentors. From this activity, mentoring relationships are developed and supported by CRSF. Through Badges for Baseball group mentoring, CRSF establishes partnerships with community based organizations (CBOs) that serve at-risk youth and law enforcement agencies to implement the program model. Since 2006, these partnerships have provided one-of-a-kind experiences to youth while also building relationships with CRSF trained mentors. Using the ball field as a classroom, and law enforcement volunteers as mentors, youth learn the skills necessary to avoid negative peer groups, engage in structured out-of-school activities, stay in school and stay away from harmful substances. In addition, mentors are trained to use the Healthy Choices, Healthy Children (HCHC) character education curriculum which focuses on key life skills, as relayed by their mentors. CRSF provides initial and ongoing technical assistance to all CBOs implementing the Badges for Baseball program. The initiative will engage 4,000 youth with 1,000 trained mentors in six states, including Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin with the potential of reaching additional states.