Braves pitcher Jason Grilli works hard on the mound as the Braves closer to finish games, but his energy is equally focused on giving back to the same community that cheers for him each night. Hunger Awareness is a cause close to Jason’s heart and as a member of Feeding America’s entertainment council he uses his affectionate nickname, “Grilled Cheese,” to bring awareness to child hunger.
Jason teamed up with the Atlanta Braves, Feeding America, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank to surprise students from The Study Hall with a special lunch. Our closer became “Chef Grilli” and fired up the grill to cook and serve his favorite snack, grilled cheese sandwiches.
Braves partners Kroger and Nature’s Own were huge supporters in making this visit extra special by donating the bread, cheese, and butter used to make the sandwiches.
After taking a tour of The Study Hall and learning about their garden, Chef Grilli made his way to the kitchen, put on an apron, grabbed a spatula and began flipping cheese sandwiches.
When it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches, there are few aromas better than that of butter and cheese sizzling and crisping on a grill, and by now, the kids were anxious to eat.
Grilli served lunch to all the students then joined them in the lunch room to share stories about his days in school and encourage them to eat healthy and stay active.
The Atlanta Braves hosted two clinics for Junior Braves RBI coaches as part of the Braves Youth Baseball Initiative of continuing to provide resources to various baseball and softball program and grow the sport of baseball in Atlanta. We partnered with MLB’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a non-profit organization that provides grants and Field Maintenance Education for the first session.
The Braves Grounds Crew, headed by award-winning field maintenance expert Ed Mangan, led the morning clinic with more than 30 local youth coaches. The Coaches learned how to prepare the mound for a game, prepare home plate, the proper way to cut the grass (with and without designs), and field measurements and dimensions (learning where to measure from and how to measure properly). They were given a behind the scenes tour of the grounds crew shop area and pump room, something that even WE have never seen. It was awesome! At the end of the clinic, Ed answered as many questions as he could. One thing he reiterated about field maintenance was, “It’s better to keep up, than catch up,” meaning it’s easier to keep the field maintained, then to let it go and try to revive it. Overall, Ed and his crew did a fantastic job teaching the skills and giving these coaches the knowledge necessary to properly maintain a field.
After the morning session, an additional 30 coaches joined us for lunch and the “Positive Coaching Alliance Workshop: Coaching For Winning and Life Lessons.” This part of the clinic was led by Will Jackson, who was on hand to teach the PCA Principles of Double Goal Coaching techniques. Will has been in youth sports as a baseball and football coach for over 40 years. The interactive workshop started by defining the Double-Goal Coach™ as one who strives to win and works to prepare his/her team to play at its highest level, and, at the same time, teaches life lessons (teamwork, dedication, bouncing back from mistakes, etc.). Will used small breakout sessions to get the coaches to interact with each other on ways they are currently coaching their players and to come up with more ways to improve their techniques. These sessions really helped the youth coaches exchange best practices and get new ideas about how to coach, teach, and motivate their players.
At the end of the session, we had one more special treat for the coaches…. Bo Porter, Atlanta Braves third base & base running coach, came and spoke to the group. Coach Porter spoke about creating an environment for youth to thrive and the three “Cs” of coaching, which he described as: 1) Commitment, 2) Competition, and 3) Coaching. He also spoke about the current Braves team and their approach on the base paths. He said, “We want to make the defense uncomfortable.” For example, too often, when a ground ball is hit, the runner doesn’t give an extreme effort to beat it out. Runners know that Major League infielders will make the play majority of time. However, if an extreme effort is given and the runner is safe, this makes the infielder uncomfortable the next time around. He used an example of a game earlier this year in Miami where a 6-4-3 Ground Ball double play should’ve been turned by Miami against the Braves, but instead the play was beaten out at first. Two batters later, a three-run homerun was hit. The double play would’ve ended the inning. That’s a huge key to winning games, extending an inning. Later that same game, another 6-4-3 Ground Ball was hit, instead this time the turn man (second baseman) rushed the exchange and dropped the ball. He attests that drop to the player being uncomfortable. Or course, everyone was listening intently and on the edge of their seat. This was one of many stories Coach Porter touched on during his time with us and we are grateful that he came!
After Coach Porter left, we thanked everyone for coming and invited them to stay for the Braves vs. Reds game that night (which we won)! It was a great event and we look forward to hosting it again next year!
This season, the Atlanta Braves launched a new girls health initiative called She Is Brave which educates, empowers and inspires girls through a series of programs that promotes self-esteem, healthy and active lifestyles and leadership skills.
As part of the She Can Dream initiative, we kicked off prom season in Atlanta with the help of the Atlanta Braves Wives. We invited 25 junior and senior girls from Atlanta Public Schools to Turner Field for an once-in-a-lifetime experience. These girls got the VIP treatment as they picked out their perfect gown and jewelry for prom, experienced hair and make-up tutorials and left with fashionable tote bags full of beauty products.
Upon arrival, the girls and their mothers were greeted and directed up to the 755 Club for a special dinner with Braves Wives Chelsea Freeman, Kristi Gomes, Gloria McDowell, Tia Johnson, Victoria Young, Veronica Ramirez, Jessica Cahill, Gabriella Perez and Bri Pugh . After dinner, we started the evening with some awesome raffle prizes from Dolce and Gabbana and Gucci including perfume, eye makeup, nail polish and lipstick compliments of Lindsey Houston of Proctor and Gamble.
The girls rotated between hair tutorials, make-up demonstrations, and the most exciting station… the prom dress station. They learned about skin care and makeup from Selena Gilbert, Make up Artist at FaceChemistry, and got amazing hair-care tips from celebrity hair stylist, Patrice Hector. Each girl also got the opportunity to peruse through the rack of over 150 dresses and jewelry to find the perfect fit for their big night. Lindsey Haas of FairyTale Endings – Helping Teens go to Prom, in Woodstock, donated all of the gorgeous gowns and sparkly jewelry.
The Atlanta Braves Wives helped each girl shop for that perfect dress. It was truly an unforgettable site to see when the girls came emerged from behind the curtain in fancy gowns and the biggest smiles on their faces. When they realized how absolutely stunning they each looked in the gowns, it was hard for any observer not to get teary-eyed.
The evening rolled on with more surprises. Each girl was called up to receive a leather tote bags filled to the brim with amazing items such as perfume, make-up and skin care products compliments of Saks 5th Avenue. They also received hair care products donated by Design Essentials and Belk gift card to purchase shoes for their big night. Last but not least, they would each receive complimentary hairstyling the day of their prom by Patrice Hector and by the wonderful hair stylists at Too Groovy Salons in Atlanta.
We were so excited to have these special guests in Braves Country for the evening, and we were thrilled to be a part of their prom. We are certain each of them looked nothing short of incredible the day of their prom thanks to our amazing vendors. If it wasn’t for these wonderful partners, we would have never been able to make these dreams come true!
Check out these wonderful news stories about the event!
On April 1st Chevrolet decided to turn “April Fool’s Day” into the #BestDayEver for people all across the country. Celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Kid Rock, Olivia Wilde, Spike Lee, Danica Patrick, Howie Long and our very own Braves Alumni Brian Jordan pitched in to participate in the surprise!
Jordan paid a special visit to the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program at Wade Walker Park, in Dekalb County, and surprised the players, coached and families with tickets to the Braves vs. Mets game during the Braves Opening Weekend. Homer, the Braves mascot, was also in on the surprise and couldn’t wait to see the excitement on the players faces.
So the stage was set. Two 12 year old teams were playing a scrimmage game. After the last out of the first inning, every player stopped suddenly as a Chevy Traverse drove onto the field. Not knowing what was going on, the remaining players cleared the dugouts to find out exactly why there was a car in the middle of the field. The league director then gets on the loudspeaker and asks the kids to gather around the car. Much to their surprise, Brian Jordan and Homer hop out of the car and the kids went crazy!
Jordan addressed the two teams stating that “the Best Day Ever starts with a surprise, and I’m here to surprise you, your parents, and coaches with tickets to an Atlanta Braves game!” Brian goes on to tell the young ballplayers about his dream of playing professional baseball when he was young and for them to dream big. Chevrolet reps were on site to pass out #BestDayEver shirts to all of the kids and everyone gathered on the mound to pose for a group photo.
But the surprise didn’t stop there. We had a few more special treats— AUTOGRAPHS! Jordan signed t-shirts, helmets, gloves, baseballs, bats, Braves stickers and more. After the autograph session, the kids received Braves gift bags.
Thanks to Brian Jordan, Homer & Chevrolet, this was the #BestDayEver!
On Monday, April 13, we hosted our annual Leadoff Luncheon in the 755 Club. This exclusive event raises money for the Atlanta Braves Foundation and allows fans and sponsors a chance to have lunch with a player or executive from the Atlanta Braves roster. The luncheon also includes a silent auction where guests have an opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind Atlanta Braves autographed memorabilia.
This year’s program featured a warm welcome from Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, as well as discussions with this year’s new and exciting team.
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and Braves infielder Andrelton Simmons were also presented with their 2014 Golden Glove awards.
Braves broadcasters Chip Caray, Joe Simpson, Jim Powell, and Don Sutton all facilitated round table conversations between the new blood on the team, Braves veterans, and Braves President of Baseball Operations, John Hart. Hart also spoke to the guests about the exciting future of the team and all of the possibilities ahead.
The luncheon program was informational and exciting, and every guest got a unique opportunity to spend quality time with a member of their favorite team. Overall, this was a very successful fundraiser for the Braves Foundation and a great way to kick off the 2015 Braves season!
As part of the Braves Care initiative which gets our Braves front office staff involved in monthly volunteer projects around the Metro Atlanta area. We visited the students at Agape Atlanta After School Program to tutor the students and discuss the various careers in sports.
Agape provides after school programming for elementary and middle school students including tutoring, mentoring, homework assistance, educational/recreational activities, field trips, a healthy meals.
We found out just how rusty we were at 3rd grade math homework when we tutored elementary students during the first half of our visit at Agape. We were tasked to help with multiplication, division, fractions and social studies homework. Of course the Braves accounting department employees really enjoyed helping the students with their math homework especially since they deal with numbers all day long!
During our one-on-one time with the kiddos, we also got to play fun, mind-stimulating games once they finished their school work. Some of us played dominoes, checkers, and Apples to Apples!
During the second half of our visit at Agape, we met with the middle school students and discussed the importance of education and career choices. Representatives from Security, Community Affairs, Marketing, Accounting shared their favorite subjects in school and how that helps with their day-to-day responsibilities. They also talked about getting involved in sports, maintaining good grades, and pursuing higher education.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with the students at the Agape After School Program, and look forward to visiting again with them in the near future. For more information about Agape, please visit AgapeAtlanta.org.
In honor of Jackie Robinson, all of Major League Baseball wears the number “42” jersey on April 15th to commemorate the day, in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. The most significant thing about everyone wearing the number 42 is that for one day, it’s about something more than yourself, or your team, it’s about a legacy, about history, about influence, about civil rights. Jackie Robinson stood for these things and so much more. His hard work, dedication, and character – both on and off the field – is why we remember and honor him.
In his honor, the Atlanta Braves hosted the 4th Annual Jackie Robinson Invitational presented by Delta Air Lines on Saturday, April 11th at the Atlanta Braves Baseball Academy. The tournament consisted of 16 baseball and softball teams from the Metro Atlanta area ranging from ages 5-12 years old. We used the opportunity to educate youth baseball and softball players about the impact of Jackie Robinson’s achievements and allowed teams the opportunity to showcase their talent and compete against other teams.
As teams began to arrive and check in to receive their gift bags, field staff was hard at work trying to get the fields ready for the first game. The night before a huge thunderstorm came through the area and pushed back our start time. Finally, at 10:00 am, thanks to the help of some sun and a little man power, the fields were ready and the tournament began. Teams played their first games with much excitement and after the first round of games, all teams made their way to the John Smoltz field for the Welcome Ceremony. During the ceremony, players got to hear from Braves Alumni Marquis Grissom on the impact of Jackie Robinson on his career. Marquis spoke about the nine characteristics that Robinson embodied: Courage, Determination, Teamwork, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment, and Excellence. Delta Air Lines Representative, Lasandra Boykin, was also present to address the teams and throw out the ceremonial pitch. After the first pitch, the winners of “A Tribute to 42” Contest were announced. Those winners just so happened to be all girls! Congratulations to Raeghan Byrom, Virginia Gwen Holbrook, Julia Cliff and Shylan Joiner of the Tyrone Tornadoes for submitting amazing artwork and poetry!
Additionally, we teamed up with Positive Athlete Georgia to award the Male and Female Positive Athlete of the tournament. These athletes were nominated by their coaches for being positive role models both on and off the field. Congratulations to Sarah Banks of the Shiloh Avengers and Chase Boines of the Sandtown Red Sox! Following the recognition and awards, each team got the chance to shake hands and take a picture with Marquiss Grissom.
To kick off the afternoon, we hosted a Pitch, Hit & Run Skills Competition for younger players. Congratulations to the following winners of each competition:
Golden Arm Pitching Champions:
Quinton Mitchell – Welcome All Nationals
Ryan Hill – Old National Braves
Fleet Feet Base Running Champions:
Justin Murphy – Old National Braves
Jayven Mack – College Park Hurricanes
Home Run Derby Champions:
Jason Cox – Welcome All Nationals
Matthew Rentz – Gresham Park Reds
During the Pitch, Hit and Run Skills Competition for the younger players, the older groups began playing the second round of games. The consolation games were up first and the teams fought hard to win their last game of the day. After those ended, the championship games began and the teams were really excited to be playing for trophies. Finally, after all day at the baseball park, we were able to crown a champion in each division. Congrats to the following teams:
5/6U Champion: Gresham Park Reds
7/8U Champion: Welcome All Nationals
11/12U Softball Champion: Georgia Crusaders
11/12U Baseball Champion: Wade Walker Park Reds
Once the tournament was complete, all teams headed over to Turner Field for the pre-game festivities. The parents, players, and coaches had the opportunity to participate in the pre-game parade and the award winners were recognized on-field during a special presentation.
Hats off to all of our participants and thanks for helping to make the 4th Annual Jackie Robinson Invitational a huge success!
Each month Braves front office employees participate in Braves Care, our employee volunteer initiative designed to give staff the chance to give back to the community in various ways. This initiative, allows us to create a closer connection to our community through volunteerism.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we visited with the seniors at the Northside Shepherd Senior Center to deliver homemade sweet treats and participate with them in their daily activities.
Located in Atlanta, The Northside Shepherd Senior Center is a recreational facility that provides the services for seniors enabling them to be healthy, happy and independent. This facility is part of a larger group of senior centers owned and operated by Meals on Wheels Atlanta which provides hot meals, small home improvement renovations, and transportation to and from the centers.
We visited with the independent seniors at the facility as well as the dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in a different wing, making sure everyone received a Braves hat and sticker along with a special heart-shaped beaded necklace. We were thrilled to see the bright eyes on all of the faces as they represented the Atlanta A proudly on their hats.
Some of the staff helped the kitchen staff prepare meals and get the truck ready for delivery, while the rest of us went to play Bingo and Braves trivia with our new friends. Must to our surprise, these ladies were well versed in Braves history and many of them shared stories about their experiences at the old Fulton County Stadium and their favorite players from years past.
To wrap up our visit, we all met back in the common area for their weekly Zumba class. We danced to Beyoncé, Tina Turner, and other fun songs while we all shimmied and shook our hips. What a fun class!
What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate and other tasty sweets? We made sure everyone received a decorative bag of homemade red velvet, chocolate chip, or oatmeal cookies.
What a fun bunch this was to visit! We met so many colorful personalities and created new memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you to our friends at the Northside Shepherd Senior Center and Meals on Wheels Atlanta for inviting us into your beautiful facility, and we hope to see our new friends at Turner Field for a Braves home game this season!
During this season, the Atlanta Braves and Kroger partnered to host a series of hunger awareness food drives to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Founded in 1979, the Atlanta Community Food Bank procures over 45 Million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to over 600 hunger relief programs in 29 Metro Atlanta and North Georgia Communities.
Every Friday night at Turner Field, Braves fans donated canned food or made monetary donations in support of the Atlanta Community Food Bank and received an autograph from a current Braves player or alumni. This season’s participants included Phil Niekro, Mark Wohlers, Marquis Grissom, Leo Mazzone, Ramiro Pena, David Carpenter, Kris Medlen, David Hale, Aaron Harang, Cory Gearrin, and Craig Kimbrel.
Thanks to our Braves fans, players, and alumni in supporting this important initiative resulting in 1,145 pounds of food and $4,300 in monetary donations.
Thank you Braves Country for supporting our efforts in eradicating hunger in the state of Georgia. If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, please visit acfb.org.
The Atlanta Braves Foundations is committed to giving back to the community. Since its establishment in 1992, the Braves Foundation has provided support to thousands of Atlanta-based organizations and has contributed more than $5.6 million in monetary and in-kind assistance to the community.
We raise these funds through various fundraisers during the season such as 50/50 Raffle, Foundation Weekend, silent auctions, online auctions, golf tournaments and luncheons. It’s because of our Braves fans, players and sponsors supporting all of these activities, that we are able to make a significant donation back into the community.
At the beginning of each Braves season, we invite non-profit organizations to apply for our annual grants program to receive funding to assist in their outreach efforts. The applicants must be youth-serving organizations that support education, recreation, and health initiatives. The process is very competitive, as there are so many great organizations in the area that are in need of funding.
During the last week of the season, the Braves Foundation awarded more than $300,000 in grants to 40 deserving organizations. This funding will support initiatives including after-school programs, health and wellness initiatives, anti-bullying campaigns, athletic programs just to name a few. Take a few minutes to read about our 2014 Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant Recipients.
- Alive Ministries will purchase and donate food and toiletries to children and families in need within the Cobb County School District.
- Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region will use funds to support the “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying initiative.
- Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will integrate healthy living values into an edible landscape community garden at Anderson Boys & Girls Club.
- Camp Sunshine will enrich the lives of Georgia’s children with cancer and their families through year round recreational, educational and support programs.
- Center for Children & Young Adults will provide funding for bed frames and dressers for Another Chance, a 20 bed youth shelter.
- Center for Working Families will provide arts, beautification and education projects for parent and child living in neighborhood planning unit V.
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will purchase motion analysis equipment to help prevent injuries in young athletes.
- Christian Aid Mission Partnership will provide backpacks filled with school supplies to needy families in Cobb County.
- CHRIS Kids will provide Trauma kits to relieve stress for children in traumatic situations.
- City of Refuge will provide nutrition education, dance, and soccer to 50 homeless and at risk youth.
- Cobb Alcohol Taskforce will utilize peer leadership support and training to curb underage drinking through the Cobb Youth Rise program.
- Cobb Health Futures Foundation will support the media smart youth program that educates youth on media, physical activity and nutrition.
- Cobb Library Foundation will build designated teen centers for youth ages 12-19 to read, study and meet.
- Cobb Police Athletic League will provide registration fees, uniforms and equipment for youth.
- Cobb County Public Schools Education Foundation will focus on college-readiness preparation by proving tutorial and counseling for SAT/ACT exams and college planning during an after-school enrichment program.
- Community Advanced Practices Nurses will provide healthcare for homeless and low-income children.
- CURE Childhood Cancer – will fund the Open Arms program that provides patients and family services for children with cancer.
- East Lake Foundation will support the Charles R. Drew after-school program.
- Everybody Wins! Atlanta will provide a reading power lunch for students and volunteers at Dunbar Elementary School.
- Foster Siblings Reunited, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for siblings who have been separated in foster care the system.
- Fragile Kids Foundation will provide specialized medical equipment for children with disabilities.
- Girls on the Run of Atlanta will provide scholarships for young girls to participate in running programs that also focus on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
- Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation will help fund the WOW! Program which provides memorable vacations for families dealing with cancer.
- Latin American Association will fund a program that helps Latino youth succeed in school and advance to higher education.
- L.E.A.D. will support the organization’s year-round baseball and life-skills development program for middle and high school students in Atlanta.
- Kamp Kizzy will support the Kamp Kizzy summer camp mentoring initiative for teen girls.
- Kutz for Kids will provide after school mentoring support for middle and high school students.
- Lutheran Services of Georgia will provide basic necessities to set up homes for refugee children.
- Make-A-Wish Georgia will grant special wish experiences to children with life threatening illnesses.
- Marietta Police Athletic League will provide ports clinics and transportation for disadvantaged youth to participate in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, tennis, volleyball, martial arts.
- Marietta YELLS will launch a community library support healthy living through monthly teen-led community dinners.
- Muscular Dystrophy Association will fund medical supplies and costs for children to attend MDA Summer Camps.
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women, NW Georgia will support the High School to Heels program for teen girls.
- Special Olympics Georgia will help offset costs for youth to attend the Special Olympic Georgia State games.
- Ten Women of Hope will provide emergency assistance for single women with children including rent, utilities, medication, car repairs or other basic needs.
- The Brian Jordan Foundation will support Camp Jordan, a free baseball clinic for more than 200 disadvantaged children.
- Tomorrow’s Champion will provide opportunities for girls to learn the fundamentals of softball and life skills.
- Urban League of Greater Atlanta will award college scholarship opportunities to high school students.
- Villages of Carver Family YMCA will use funds to support the youth baseball initiatives at the Atlanta Braves Youth Baseball Academy.
- YWCA of Northwest Georgia, Inc. will provide summer camp opportunities for children of domestic violence victims.
As you can see, there are so many great programs out there that will benefit a lot deserving children. We are proud to be a part of making an impact in the lives of so many people. Congratulations to all of our 2014 Braves Foundation Grantees!
If your organization is interested in receiving funding through the Atlanta Braves Foundation Grant program, please visit braves.com/grants in April, 2015 to apply.