The first African American in the twentieth century to play Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson broke the league’s color barrier after more than 50 years of segregation. His contributions to the broader civil rights movement extended off the field into business, media, and nonviolent activism.
Jackie Robinson Foundation, incorporated by Robinson’s wife, Rachel Robinson, after his death, continues his legacy by supporting higher education opportunities for minority students through scholarships and ongoing support.
What is the Jackie Robinson Foundation?
The Jackie Robinson Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “has continued Robinson’s commitment to equal opportunity by addressing the achievement gap in higher education” and provided “generous, multi-year scholarship awards coupled with a comprehensive set of support services to highly motivated JRF Scholars and Extra Innings Fellows attending colleges and universities throughout the country.”
Jackie Robinson Foundation History
Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, a landmark moment that ushered in the desegregation of Major League Baseball and contributed to a confluence of other factors transpiring nationally that moved the needle toward integration and equality. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Robinson as “a legend and a symbol in his own time.”
Beyond opening doors through his athletic excellence, Robinson also contributed to the civil rights movement directly, using his platform as a baseball star to fundraise for organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Co-writing about her late husband with John Kerry amid the White House’s 2005 celebration of Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson reflected, “Robinson broke that color barrier before our military was desegregated, before the civil rights marches in the South, before some of our major universities admitted African-Americans, and before the historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.”
Seeking to build on Jackie Robinson’s holistic efforts to build a more equitable world, and drawing on her own accomplishments as a business leader, civil rights activist, professor, and “ardent crusader for opportunity through education,” Rachel Robinson formally incorporated the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973, one year after her husband’s death.
How the Jackie Robinson Foundation Gives Back
The Jackie Robinson Foundation “provides education and leadership development opportunities for students of color with strong capabilities, but limited financial resources” through a generous four-year scholarship program alongside “extensive, hands-on mentoring and support services.”
Scholarship Grant and 42 Strategies for Success Curriculum
Jackie Robinson Foundation awards talented high school graduates pursuing their bachelor’s degree “grants of up to $30,000 over four years to complement the financial aid they receive from their colleges or universities.”
The nonprofit also provides a variety of nonmonetary supports to students while they progress in their higher education, including academic and professional mentoring, job placement and networking assistance, leadership conferences, community service opportunities, and more.
Rachel Robinson International Fellowship (RRIF)
The Rachel Robinson International Fellowship (RRIF) “was established in 2008 with a generous grant from the Sheila C. Johnson Foundation to promote and support international service and study opportunities for Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars.” Recipients may use it to support their involvement in study abroad programs, volunteer efforts, or internship opportunities.
Extra Innings Fellowship (EIF)
The Extra Innings Fellowship (EIF) “was conceived of and funded by a generous endowed gift from The Windmill Foundation to help highly motivated Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars fund the cost of advanced professional or graduate training.” Recipients are awarded up to $10,000 per academic year depending on their financial circumstances to support endeavors that “address communities in need both across the country and around the world.”
Impact and Future Plans for the Jackie Robinson Foundation
Jackie Robinson Foundation has made a demonstrable impact in its nearly 50 years of work. Here’s just a snapshot of what the organization has accomplished.
- 98% graduation rate for Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars
- 1,500 JRF alumni
- $95 million in grants and program funding awarded
- 260 colleges and universities attended by JRF Scholars
- 62% of Scholars go on to earn graduate degrees
- 55% of JRF alumni hold management positions in their careers
- 63% of JRF Scholars participate in community service
As it continues to support opportunities for generations of learners and leaders to come, the Jackie Robinson Foundation also plans to open the Jackie Robinson Museum to “inspire visitors to embrace the humanitarian values that defined Robinson’s life and continue working toward ‘first class citizenship’ for all Americans.”
How to Support the Jackie Robinson Foundation
Jackie Robinson Foundation supporters can donate directly to the nonprofit via their website, donate your cash back to Jackie Robinson Foundation with Giving Assistant when shopping online, or explore other ways to give and share support.
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