BUFFALO, N.Y. (Aug. 9, 2023) — Delaware North has donated $25,000 to the Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Program in support of its Nike Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative in Buffalo. This initiative provides free year-round afterschool and summer programs, including baseball and softball clinics.
The donation will help empower young individuals from underserved and diverse communities to engage in baseball and softball, fostering both academic success and crucial life skills. This contribution was facilitated through a dedicated fund in partnership with Project Play Western New York, reflecting Delaware North’s commitment to its Healthy Hometowns program.
Nike RBI, administered by Major League Baseball (MLB), has made a significant impact on approximately two million young individuals since its inception. With over 200 programs spread across approximately 200 cities worldwide, the program has seen several RBI alumni become successful MLB players – including Jackie Bradley Jr. (Kansas City Royals), Hunter Greene (Cincinnati Reds), Alek Thomas (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Dominic Smith (Washington Nationals).
“Major League Baseball’s RBI program is thrilled to hear about the significant support Delaware North and the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo/Project Play WNY is providing to the Willie Hutch Jones Nike RBI program in Buffalo,” said David James, vice president of baseball and softball development for the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. “This generous donation will enable many more play opportunities for youth in Buffalo.”
MLB and its clubs have committed more than $40 million in resources to support the Nike RBI program, fostering its growth and expanding its reach. By joining forces with Willie Hutch Jones Educational & Sports Program in 2021, MLB initiated an annual tradition of supporting baseball and softball clinics. This year, these transformative clinics are taking place in McCarthy Park in East Buffalo, focusing on instilling fundamental skills such as throwing, catching, fielding, hitting and base running.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Nike RBI program and partner with Project Play Western New York to support these incredible baseball and softball clinics,” said Jamie Obletz, president of Delaware North Sportservice. “Our company has a long history with baseball and sports, and through our Healthy Hometowns program, we are dedicated to making positive impacts on the lives of young people in the communities where we live and work.”
Project Play Western New York, born out of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s regional research initiative called State of Play, serves as a crucial partner in this endeavor. The $25,000 donation from Delaware North will be administered through the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, ensuring its effective allocation to make a meaningful difference in the lives of aspiring young athletes.
“We are truly grateful for this sponsorship and honored to participate in the efforts to give back to our community through our Nike RBI baseball and softball programs. The support from Delaware North underscores their investment in our youth and our ability to create programs that benefit under-resourced youth in our region,” said program namesake and CEO Dr. Willie Hutch Jones.
Through its Healthy Hometowns program, Delaware North focuses on child and family health and safety, equity in education, and workforce readiness, aiming to positively impact the lives of team members, guests and neighbors.