At Inside Philanthropy we’re always interested to learn about how professional sports teams are giving back to the communities they play in. Now, in the height of baseball season, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation (ADF) caught our attention when it awarded a grant to a mobile health program in Tucson. But what’s really interesting about this foundation is that it was established before the team ever played a major league game.
The foundation was created in 1997, although the D-Backs team wasn’t actually formed until 1998. That just goes to show how deep this team's philanthropic roots run.
Since that time, the foundation has focused its efforts on homelessness, indigent healthcare, and children’s programs. Its support for children includes education and youth baseball fields. But in addition to these three focus areas, the funder has also given back to specific local community needs, like police departments, firefighters, veterans and teachers.
This season, ADF awarded a $80,831 grant to the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson’s Mobile Health Program, which aims to give uninsured people in Pima County accessible care. It was one of the team’s “Ken Kendrick Grand Slam Awards,” and will be paying for two ultrasound machines, new computers, and telemedicine equipment to provide prenatal care to pregnant women. The ultimate goal, here, is to provide newborn babies in the community the best possible chance at a healthy life.
Since its beginning, ADF has awarded over $50 million to nonprofits, and that money has stayed within the state of Arizona. While some of these funds have come from the team itself, the bulk has been funneled through the team’s foundation. Like most sport team funders, money is raised through galas, 50/50 raffles, license plate programs, field tours and online auctions. As a part of the team’s charitable work, it has also donated over $10 million in tickets and autographed merchandise to nonprofits, schools, auctions, and other events.
But unlike grants from many teams, D-Backs grants have published guidelines, and you can actually apply for them. For example, the 2018 Ken Kendrick Grand Slam Awards opportunity opens between October 11 and November 30, 2017 for youth improvement programs. Program grants are awarded for $1,000 to $5,000, and the 2018 funding opportunity opens between May 15 and July 20 this year. There’s also a Field Building Program and a Play Ball Fund if you’re in the business of youth sports.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a baseball fan, or who you cheer for, Arizona nonprofits should take a look at the D-Backs’ Community Grants page. This is one of the most well-established, approachable, and generous sport team funders in the country, and a notable player on the Southwest’s philanthropic landscape.