The Jackie Robinson Foundation
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (www.jackierobinson.org) is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1973 by Rachel Robinson, the wife of American sports and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson, to perpetuate his memory through the support of higher education and the promotion of the values he embodied. The Foundation’s celebrated program model combines generous multi-year financial assistance with extensive leadership and practical life skills. Over its 42-year history, the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) has dispensed over $65 million in scholarships and direct program support.
Staffed by 20 full-time employees and 90 volunteer professionals across eight geographic regions, JRF not only boasts a high graduation rate, but develops leaders who are prepared to compete effectively in the workforce of a global economy. With an average of 250 students enrolled in the program annually, JRF has had many years of success and experience with a diverse minority student population matriculating at 90 – 100 colleges and universities across the country, varying slightly from year to year. 1,450 professionals proudly call themselves JRF alumni, having been molded into dynamic leaders with a commitment to community service and the humanitarian ideals of Jackie Robinson.
Uniquely, JRF provides generous four-year college scholarships in conjunction with a comprehensive set of skills and opportunities to disadvantaged students of color to ensure their success in college and to develop their leadership potential. JRF’s hands-on, four-year program includes peer and professional mentoring, internship placement, extensive leadership training, international travel and community service options, the conveyance of practical life skills, and a myriad of networking opportunities. JRF’s strategic combination of financial assistance and support services results consistently in a nearly 100% college graduation rate.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides a multi-faceted experience designed to not only address the financial needs of minority students who aspire to attend college, but also to guide them through the process of higher education, molding them into dynamic leaders. The award is given to outstanding high school graduates who plan to earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education. Since its inception, the program has attracted the support of hundreds of companies, philanthropic institutions and individuals. As a result of JRF’s efforts, increasing numbers of students are able to attend the colleges and universities of their choice, where they are poised to develop their academic skills and leadership talents.
JRF awards each student a $24,000/four-year scholarship to complement the financial aid the student receives from the college or university for tuition and other education expenses (books, housing, etc.).
Advisory committee members, corporate sponsors, community leaders, and JRF alumni and staff serve as mentors. Each Scholar is assigned a mentor to enhance their developmental experience. Mentors assist them with a wide variety of needs such as academic guidance, career planning and internship placement.
Corporate partners provide and assist Scholars with summer internship placement and permanent employment, offering valuable career development opportunities. The JRF staff works diligently with both sponsors and Scholars to identify appropriate internships and to secure summer and semester positions. Further, JRF Scholars also benefit from ongoing career counseling and assistance with locating full-time positions upon graduation.
The Foundation provides workshops during the annual Scholars’ Weekend which focus on enhancing leadership skills, including conflict management, business etiquette and public speaking, and secures internships to enhance Scholars’ leadership development. Further, JRF provides forums for Scholars to demonstrate these acquired skills as members of the JRF student advisory committee, interview subjects for national and local media, and ambassadors at public events.
JRF Scholars are required to participate in community service as part of their scholarship. Each Scholar must document these projects and keep them on file with JRF. Through these efforts, JRF Scholars impact thousands of lives and gain valuable skills and experiences. Whether it is starting a nonprofit to provide college preparatory training for low-income students, building houses in Third World regions, researching the AIDS epidemic or reading to local students, JRF Scholars are ambassadors of Jackie’s philosophy that, “A life is not important except in its impact on other lives.”
Friday, meet Della Britton Baeza of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
This article is reprinted from Vol. 2, No. 3, of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today.
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