The New York Yankees Diversity and Inclusion Committee — which identifies, engages and addresses issues related to equality, racial justice and inclusivity — today announced a program in partnership with T-Mobile to benefit New York City Department of Education (DOE) students, as facilitated by the Fund for Public Schools (The Fund). The Yankees will donate $1 million toward the activation of one year of free unlimited internet service to nearly 11,000 devices being distributed in Bronx schools for the 2021-22 school year.
Distribution of the devices with this service began at the start of this school year, and they are being provided to students in need across all grade levels.
After the first year, these devices connected as a result of the Yankees’ donation will continue to receive free internet service for an additional five years through T-Mobile’s Project 10Million. The unprecedented $10.7 billion program offers free internet service and free mobile hotspots to under-connected households with school-aged children, aiming to reach up to 10 million eligible households over five years. The program offers school districts free and highly subsidized data plans that they can provide to their students for free.
The New York Yankees Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which was formalized in September 2020, was the result of an extended period of planning and collaboration with community leaders and within the Yankees organization to determine the appropriate framework for imparting meaningful and long-lasting change. This Committee’s mission focuses on identifying and combating disparities and systemic inequities that obstruct socioeconomic fairness and progress for marginalized groups.
Earlier this week, Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman and Senior Vice President of Corporate/Community Relations Brian Smith were joined by Yankees Hitting Coach Marcus Thames, Bullpen Coach Mike Harkey and centerfielder Aaron Hicks in surprising ninth and 10th-grade students at the Bronx School for Law & Finance (X284) via Zoom to have a conversation about the importance of education and technology. Highlights may be found here: https://twitter.com/Yankees/status/1442486403774963721.
To further celebrate the implementation of the initiative, the Yankees are providing the New York City Department of Education with 3,000 tickets for students and their families to attend the Yankees-Rays game Friday night, Oct. 1.
“The inability to afford internet connectivity in the home is an insurmountable modern-day barrier to receiving full access to education and a stark impediment for upward mobility, rendering a significant amount of students’ homework and group activities impossible as well as limiting the capacity for children to learn about the world beyond their neighborhoods,” said New York Yankees Senior Vice President of Corporate/Community Relations Brian Smith. “This resource deficit was further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic as financial difficulties for low-income and working families reached an apex and classes were moved online. In speaking with community leaders over the last year and a half, they stressed that addressing this disparity that should be put at the forefront of our outreach efforts. With the full support of the Steinbrenner family, we called on our partner, T-Mobile, and were ecstatic to learn of their enthusiasm and commitment to improving student connectivity in underserved communities, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the direction this has taken.”
“Though things are slowly returning to a new normal, equitable access to the internet outside the classroom remains critically important, and that’s why we’re excited to use the power of T-Mobile’s network to empower the next generation,” said Mike Katz, President of T-Mobile Business Group. “Students who don’t have the tools they need are left behind which makes it harder for them to stay motivated. Programs like this partnership and Project 10Million are crucial in leveling the playing field to ensure all students have the same access to opportunity.”
“I’m thrilled to kick off this partnership with the Yankees and T-Mobile which will support thousands of Bronx students and their learning during the critical school year ahead,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “This is a home run for our families and furthers our goal to provide every child with the resources they need to succeed in today’s digital world.”
“As we welcome our students back to schools, the need for devices and internet access at home continues to be necessary for many students and families, and this contribution will allow students to fully participate in their own education outside of the classroom,” said Julie L. Shapiro, CEO of the Fund for Public Schools. “The New York Yankees and T-Mobile have been strong partners to The Fund and NYC DOE throughout the pandemic and we are excited to continue our work together by providing free unlimited internet service to more than 10,000 Bronx students.”
The Yankees Diversity & Inclusion committee focuses on five major pillars: diversity and inclusion within the Yankees organization, education, socioeconomic development, social responsibility and health & wellness. Programs falling under its auspices include:
• The Yankees-CUNY (City University of New York) Partnership Program identifies and exposes CUNY students and alumni to career paths, employment, and business opportunities throughout the New York Yankees organization and immerses select students into the New York Yankees Sport Management Mentoring Program.
• The Yankee Stadium Vaccination Center began operation on February 5 and was established through a partnership between New York State, New York City, the New York Yankees, SOMOS Community Care and the New York National Guard. Approximately 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date at the site. Appointments and registration are not necessary for initial doses (non-boosters). People can visit www.yankees.com/vaccinate for more details and hours of operation.
• Monthly “Pop-Up” Food Distribution with the Food Bank For New York City addresses heightened local food insecurities, providing 500 families per month with access to shelf-stable food items and fresh produce.
• Fueling Our Future targets underserved communities with a focus on the Bronx, providing local young people with health and wellness skills for excelling in the classroom, on the field and in their daily lives. The program, which works in conjunction with DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) and Nike, serves its students through five weekly virtual seminars with Yankees employees who are experts in their respective fields of mental health, physical fitness and nutrition.
• Blue Chips is an NYPD co-ed youth mentoring and sports program that focuses on bridging the gap between police officers and young people throughout New York City, using sports and education to create safe and cohesive avenues for young individuals to create stronger bonds with members of the NYPD. To create an ideal setting for these conversations, Yankee Stadium has opened its doors to host mentors and mentees in this program.
• The Bronx Community Clean-Up Series is a partnership with Community Board 4 and the New York City Department of Sanitation aimed to help fight litter during the summer months by incentivizing residents to clean up their community on designated days in a competition-style format. Participants receive items such as free Yankees tickets, special prizes and access to Stadium events.
• NYPD Recruitment Tutoring Sessions are hosted at Yankee Stadium, where instructors from the New York City Police Department Candidate Assessment Division discuss the virtues of being an NYPD officer and promote the importance of having a diverse and positive impact in the community. Groups of approximately 40 NYPD recruits attended sessions on June 17 and June 21 this year.
• The Bronx DA/NYPD Gun Buyback Program is a partnership with Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office and the New York City Police Department to reduce the number of firearms in the local community. In October 2020 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx, civilians traded in their guns in exchange for cash cards and Apple iPads, with funding for the event coming from the Yankees.
• The Business to Community Initiative was initiated in December 2020 in support of local businesses in the 161st Street corridor around Yankee Stadium. In association with the Bronx’s 16th Council District, led by Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the Yankees committed $50,000 in the form of 10 separate $5,000 awards to businesses in the corridor. With the guidance of the Bronx Council District 16 Office, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) were given credits to utilize these funds thereby doubling down on the local impact of the awards. The majority of the commitment was directed toward local restaurants and food providers reflecting the primary needs of the community during the pandemic.
• In 2020, the Yankees contributed to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of the Small Business Emergency Grant Program. The program was established to accelerate and supplement the recovery, repairs and resources for establishments that had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional focus was given to small Bronx businesses that had suffered damage during public protests.
• The Bronx Chamber of Commerce Partnership to Provide Pro Bono Legal Aid helped to secure legal assistance for small local businesses struggling due to difficulties associated with COVID-19. As a result of the Chamber’s relationship with the law firm of Arnold & Porter, these businesses received pro bono support services and resources. In addition, the Chamber connected with longstanding Yankees partner Univision to create a virtual town hall to provide local businesses with an educational seminar that discussed best practices related to recovering and growing during these challenging times.