SF Giants Honor Willie Mays Through Scholarship Program to Benefit Black Youth

To celebrate the 90th birthday of baseball icon Willie Mays, the San Francisco Giants have launched a new college prep and scholarship program to benefit Black students, per an announcement released by Larry Baer, CEO of the Giants. The Giants Community Fund, a nonprofit sponsored by the SF Giants, launched the Willie Mays Scholars program last week in honor of the legendary baseball giant who regrets not having had similar educational opportunities during his own youth.

“I have always made kids my priority by helping them in any way I could throughout my playing career,” Mays told the San Francisco chronicle, adding, “To have the Giants Community Fund and the Giants ownership group create this program in my name and to provide a path to college for Black children in our community means the world to me.”

“It’s the perfect coming together, a way to pay tribute to Willie, his legacy, and his life,” Baer stated. “Willie always loved kids, and this is a perfect way to embody how he feels about the youth and a perfect way for our organization to create positive change in our community.”

Starting in the fall of 2021, the program will honor five high school freshmen in San Francisco with scholarships of $20,000 each, along with mentoring and tutoring support throughout their high school and college careers valued at about $70,000 in partnership with educational nonprofits Alive & Free and 100% College Prep.  This support includes strategically targeted opportunities to assist Black students in completing their desired degrees, as well as career development opportunities such as career planning support, internship opportunities in the Giants front office, and sponsored college tours to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Additional services, such as annual financial planning to help students avoid student debt, will also be provided, along with family meetings to provide support and encouragement for students and their families during their educational journey. Funded primarily by the Giants ownership group, the need-based scholarship will focus on deserving students from economically disadvantaged families in San Francisco.

Baer also stressed that the Willie Mays Scholars program was launched as a means to counteract racial inequities in educational opportunities among the San Francisco community, where only 31% of the local Black population over 25 has earned a bachelor’s degree in comparison to 74% of the city’s white population.  Given the statistics confirming that a bachelor’s degree increases an individual’s access to professional opportunities with higher salaries and benefits such as health insurance and retirement pension plans, the Scholars program will provide a valuable opportunity for local youth, while contributing to professional and economic growth in the community.

Vincent Porter, Jr, Vice Chair of the Giants Community Fund, also pointed out that Willie Mays Scholars will be inspired by the story of Willie Mays, identifying with his own background growing up in a humble community and achieving international success and fame, noting “It’s part of what kids can identify with and say, ‘He did it. I can do it, too.’”

Mays was also moved by the tribute to his legacy and expressed his enthusiasm for the program and his personal support for the lucky students who will be selected to participate in its first year. “I can’t wait to meet the first class of Willie Mays Scholars to offer them my encouragement and support,” he affirmed.

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