Sacred Heart University has collaborated with the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) to start the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship called SHU&42.
The JRF was founded in 1973 by Rachel Isum, the wife of Major League Baseball (MLB) player Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the MLB and broke baseball color barriers by starting as a first baseman on the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Isum wanted to continue Robinson’s legacy and started the JRF to provide equal opportunities of higher education for everyone.
According to Sacred Heart Athletics, the university’s Executive Athletic Director Bobby Valentine said, “Both organizations are dedicated to helping young people succeed.”
On Oct. 22, Valentine hosted a virtual charity event with Joe Torre, a former MLB player and manager who is now an MLB executive. During the event, the two spoke about their 2000 World Series matchup between the New York Yankees and New York Mets, as well as the past, present and future of baseball.
They were joined by moderator Harold Reynolds, who was also a former MLB player and is now a sports analyst. All of the proceeds from the event went toward the JFR scholarship.
Other celebrities like NBC announcer Bob Costas and Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Jackie Robinson, made an appearance at the event. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers Elton Brand asked Valentine and Torre questions about the World Series.
“The event included a great conversation about the 2000 World Series that brought together the New York Mets and the New York Yankees in a Subway Series,” said Vice President of University Advancement William Reidy. “A number of friends also asked Valentine and Torre questions about the series itself. It was a really vibrant and dynamic show.”
The JRF will select a Sacred Heart student for a 4-year scholarship that meets the scholarship’s criteria, which are staying true to the core values of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
According to Sacred Heart, the scholarship will follow a highly selective application process. Once a student has been selected, they will participate in JRF programs to promote the morals and values of Robinson.
Although the event was virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions, a large number of people still gathered with the help of the press and social media.
“The SHU&42 celebrity and media tweets reached a potential total of 3.8 million fans. The press also helped get the word out there. Bobby Valentine did several interviews with places like CBS Sports Radio and the Hartford Courant that helped put this event in front of tens of thousands of people,” said Reidy.
Reidy mentioned that the event itself required a donation to the new JRF scholarship, and hundreds of people attended.
According to Sacred Heart, the event required a minimum $20 donation to access the virtual event. There were several donation options, including $42 to commemorate Robinson’s 42 jersey number, and a maximum donation amount of $1,000.
The $1,000 donation included access to the event, a piece of memorabilia signed by Valentine, special recognition at the event and limited-edition commemorative event memorabilia.
“I don’t know much about baseball, but I do know Jackie Robinson and how he was the first African American baseball player,” said junior Divalee Iglesias. “Sacred Heart collaborating with the Jackie Robinson Foundation to create a 4-year scholarship will be such a powerful thing to have in the future and helps with SHU’s steps into making campus a more diverse and inclusive place.”