Batter Up: MLB Pitcher Takes Swing at Philadelphia Schools

Major league baseball players get traded from team to team all the time. But what happens to a player’s charitable giving when he moves from one city to another? For Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, getting traded is a perfect opportunity to expand funding, not fall back like some fair-weather philanthropist.

Hamels and his wife, Heidi, established a foundation in 2008 and always knew he might be traded to another city in the future. But that didn’t stop them from getting involved with local grantmaking in Philadelphia. The foundation’s mission is all about education and giving kids the tools they need to succeed in school. Although the Hamels’ philanthropic reach is national and global, they’ve really tuned in to the needs of Philadelphia schools lately.

The foundation recently awarded $53,000 in grants to eight Philadelphia schools for equipment and supplies. This money went toward things like STEM lab kits, a robotics program, a library and an auditorium audio system. Back in 2012, the foundation awarded its largest one-time donation to Bayard Taylor Elementary Schoola $335,000 playground renovation grant.  

Overall, Hamels support tends to gravitate to practical and tangible things that K-12 students and educators need, rather than toward popular giving strategies like teacher training and charter schools. But to give you a better sense of Hamels' grantmaking, these are a few local grantees from 2014:

  • Overbrook Elementary School - $13,000 for Go-Math Core Grade Standard textbooks and curriculum
  • Kensington Multiplex High School - $12,000 for athletic equipment
  • Tilden Middle School - $3,7000 for projectors for auditorium and classrooms

Other geographical focus areas are Springfield, Missouri and the surrounding Ozarks area, which is home base for the foundation, and Malawi, Africa, which has over a million orphans due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In fact, the foundation’s first grant dollars went toward building a school in Malawi, which opened for grades one to eight in 2014 and also included eight houses to attract teachers.

But in spite of recent events, the foundation’s Executive Director Kelly Anderson has been reassuring Philadelphia education groups that Hamels' trade won’t affect the foundation’s commitment to the city. As baseball fans know, there’s a lot of money involved in player trading, so perhaps now there will be even more to go around to support students and teachers.

“We are going to support Philadelphia area schools into the foreseeable future, regardless of where Cole Hamels plays. That commitment doesn’t changeCole and Heidi are adamant about that,” said Anderson. “His trade to Texas gives us another opportunity to bring a new community into the fold. We will have to meet with administrators and the school board there to see where we can expand our programs and projects in Texas and make an impact for even more children.”

As with many athlete- and celebrity-established foundations, internal fundraising is a major source of the grantmaking budget. Hundreds of Philadelphians attended the foundation’s annual gala this past June to raise $350,000. But now, with Texas in the mix, it’s not yet known what percentage of Hamels Foundation funds will be going to each of its target areas.

The foundation is currently accepting applications for its annual Partners in Educations Awards for the Springfield, Missouri and Philadelphia areas, as well as their surrounding communities. The deadline for grant submissions is always March 15 of each calendar year, and the grant guidelines and application form are available online. But unfortunately for nonprofits, the foundation quit accepting unsolicited grant applications from nonprofit organizations in October 2014.

So at least for now, low-income and inner-city schools are the Hamels’ ideal grantees. You can learn more about the foundation on the FAQ page or contact Kelly Anderson at 417-988-2369 and kelly@thehamelsfoundation.org