Introducing The 2015 Marlins Charity Partners

The following is a Guest Blog Post from Renee Foster, Intern for the Marlins Foundation:

On April 10th, 2015, the Marlins Foundation introduced the 2015 Marlins Charity Partners. The four organizations selected were each awarded a $25,000 gift and were honored during a pregame ceremony.


The Charity Partner Empowerment Fund allows the Marlins Foundation to invest in innovative organizations that are impacting the South Florida community in a very positive way. In addition to a $25,000 donation from the Marlins Foundation, our charity partners are entitled to other benefits such as:

  • Select Charity Partner Days at Marlins Park that includes media coverage and in-game promotional/fundraising opportunities.
  • A partnership with Marlins Ayudan (Spanish for “help”), our Front Office community service program that responds to a variety of community needs and is now widely known as a corporate leader in volunteerism.
  • Complimentary Ballpark Buddies tickets for local, underprivileged youth groups
  • Access to Billy The Marlin, the Marlins Energy Team and more!

There are four words that describe this year’s beneficiaries of the Marlins
Foundation Charity Partner Empowerment Fund: Big, Special, InclUsive, and Artistic.

The Miami Marlins and the Marlins Foundation are proud to continue their partnership with Young At Art Museum and Special Olympics Florida – Miami-Dade for the second year in row. This year, they are joined by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami and Up2Us Sports.  These non-profit organizations will support the Marlins civic engagement efforts and Corporate Social Responsibility projects in order to make a deep and focused impact on our South Florida youth through education, the arts, and baseball with a special focus on children with special-needs.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami’s mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentor relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. BBBS will be launching a pilot Sports Buddies Program, serving middle and high school students in need of a positive role model. On April 24th, the Miami Marlins will honor the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami partnership by hosting their exclusive Charity Partner Day at Marlins Park. It will also be Mardi Gras Night at the ballpark which will add a vibrant flair to a special night for BBBS.

b2b2Special Olympics Florida – Miami-Dade has a mission to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with Intellectual Disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, talents and friendship with their families, other athletes and the community. For the second consecutive year, the Marlins will serve as the official sponsor of Special Olympics Softball in Miami. The partnership will provide a higher threshold of opportunity for training, competition, personal growth and community engagement for the athletes in the program. The Miami Marlins will celebrate the Special Olympics Charity Partner Day on May 1st, and what better theme than Superheroes Night to complement such a joyous occasion?

b2b3Young At Art Museum is passionate about providing inspiring and interactive experiences in which art is central to shaping young minds and enriching our community. YAA will develop an Artist Residency Program for students and teachers at Marlins Ayudan Partner Schools. The Artist Residency Program will integrate art and literacy through the student’s excitement for baseball. Young At Art’s Charity Partner Day will be hosted at Marlins Park on June 26th while the ballpark will be themed for Nickelodeon Night.

b2b4Up2Us Sports is a national nonprofit organization that is focused on the power of coaches to transform the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable youth, and the communities they live in, through sports. The Marlins will partner with Up2Us Sports to conduct a training program for coaches who will receive a Certification in Sports Based Youth Development (SBYD).  SBYD coaches understand the importance of leveraging the sports setting to achieve positive outcomes around physical, mental, social and emotional skills. The Marlins will salute the organization’s initiatives and accomplishments on July 31st during their Charity Partner Day. It will also be Wrestling Night at the ballpark on that date.

b2b5“Marlins Charity Partners are a signature example of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and reflect our values-driven mission of philanthropy and service,” said Marlins President David Samson. “These impactful organizations do great work in the community, and we are honored to support their efforts in South Florida.” The Charity Partner Empowerment Fund is a signature program of the Marlins Foundation and it has helped the Marlins elevate their corporate social responsibility initiatives to new heights and supported the Marlins Foundation continued mission of philanthropy and service. This year’s partners are sure to help the Marlins reach even further BEYOND THE BALLPARK!




The Power of Mentorship

Ever wonder what Marlins staff is up to when the team is on the road? Well, the Marlins Ayudan School Partnership Program keeps them all pretty busy.

Yesterday morning, Blue Shirts led a Marlins Ayudan Mentorship Program session for students in Ms. Jordan’s class at Citrus Grove Middle School. Students and Blue Shirts discussed topics based on Jackie Robinson’s Nine Values: Teamwork, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment, Excellence, Determination and Courage. This session dove into the value of Courage, primarily the courage it takes to know oneself, to get to know others in the peer group, and to be confident in who they are as people.


Meanwhile, Blue Shirts were leading a Career Workshop Series at Marlins Park. This session, titled the “Senior Seminar,” was the fourth of six sessions to take place this semester. First, students from Booker T. Washington, Miami Senior High School, and S.L.A.M. heard presentations given by Marlins employees from our sales, information technology and human resources departments.

The second half of the session was a resume workshop. Students brought  their resumes to be critiqued by Blue Shirts. They were given examples of good and bad resumes and a helpful list of buzzwords to spruce up their own. Students who had the best resume from each table presented it in front of the group and shared what they had learned.



Later that afternoon, Blue Shirts led weekly literacy tutoring sessions and read to students at both Lenora B. Smith Elementary and Citrus Grove Elementary Schools.


In all, Blue Shirts were represented at five of seven MASPP schools. For many, yesterday was just another typical Thursday — but for the Blue Shirts, it was an exciting and impactful day that touched many students lives.

Marlins Ayudan Puts the “Pep” in Pep Rally

The school house was rocking Thursday afternoon at Citrus Grove Elementary!

Students were expecting a pep rally, but what they got was a full on party, Miami Marlins style! Billy the Marlin, The Street Team and Marlins Ayudan team Pulse were there to get the students excited about taking their standardized state tests, and also to relieve some of the stress that comes with testing.


Shrill screams of delight could be heard all the way from the parking lot as Billy made his way to the back of the school where the pep rally was being held. At Citrus Grove Elementary, Marlins staff are treated like celebrities. Once students see our blue shirts, they cheer and yell out, “Marlins! The Marlins are here!” They ask for autographs, still, even after we explain we’re not players. Yesterday was no exception! They love to have us there, and we love to be there!

DJ Daz and The Street Team were already hard at work playing songs, holding dance competitions and handing out t-shirts, magnet schedules, candy and more at the prize wheel.


Team Pulse was put on snack duty. A table was set up at the front entrance of the pavilion where the pep rally was being held. Pulse handed out chips, lollipops, and ice pops to each student as they arrived to the dance party.


Classes came in waves by grade. First was Pre-K, first, and third, then came forth, second and fifth. The students had a blast! They even out-danced Billy! One of the students exclaimed, “This is the best day ever,” while the rest shouted out “Yeah” in approval!


Citrus Grove Elementary is one of seven schools selected for the Marlins Ayudan School Partnership Program (MASPP). Having the Marlins host a pep rally is one of the many benefits that come with membership to the program. Citrus Grove’s pep rally was definitely an unforgettable experience!

To learn, more visit

Kids Play with the Pros at Marlins Spring Training

One after another, they kept coming to our table.

“What’s your name, buddy?”

I must’ve asked that hundreds of times.

Well, actually closer to 60, for all of the kids that came to our 2015 Marlins Spring Training Youth Baseball Clinic this past Sunday. It was an event that I had really been looking forward to. We were in a new place (Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL), working with kids directly (incredibly fun) and our Marlins players enjoy it as well (everybody wins).

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The itinerary was pretty straight-forward. First was batting practice that about half of our participants signed up to attend. Afterwards was the game that everyone attending the clinic would have received two tickets for. Then, by the time the 9th inning rolled around, we would set up and start checking in our participants. I had been signing up each kid and their parent for weeks now, and I knew most if not all of their names. “Oh! You’re Sergio! We spoke to you on the phone!” they would tell me.

By then we had all the kids split into 4 groups. Each group worked with a different Marlins player on either fielding, pitching, or hitting. I was leading Group 4 (ages 10 and up), and our first stop was a visit with Dee Gordon. Picture a 10-year-old fielding grounders while Dee Gordon instructs him: “Widen your stance!” or “Make sure your glove touches the ground!” They loved

Our next station was the pitching mound with Mike Dunn. Introductions were brief, as Mike likes to get down to business. He takes more of a hands-off approach, offering advice only when necessary and occasionally cracking jokes with some of the older kids. Luis, the only 16 year old at the clinic, was easily over 6 feet tall. He drew a lot of attention from our players at each station.

Dunn 2

After saying our goodbyes to Dunn, my group went over to the batting cages where the Super Solano Bros., Donovan and Jhonatan, were ready to go over some of the finer points of hitting. Here my group joined with Amanda’s group and everyone seemed happy to get out of the sun. At one point, kids were gently shoving to get to the front of the line and I may have had to cut in to keep the order but everybody still got multiple opportunities to step up to the plate. You really can’t blame them; it’s exciting and the Solano Bros. are so great with kids. Jhonatan was even handing out batting gloves to a lucky few.

Solano 2

The event closed with one final group photo and a few parting words from our Executive Director, Alfredo “Alfie” Mesa, before everyone split off and rejoined their parents. It was at that point that you really get to see how much the kids enjoyed the clinic. They would all excitedly tell their parents about each station and everything they had learned, recalling every little detail. I’m positive that every mom and dad got an earful on the ride home that evening.

I want to thank Amanda, Cesar, Juancho, Renee and Sarah for all their help throughout the event. I also want to thank our players, Mike Dunn, Dee Gordon, and Donovan & Jhonatan Solano for their participation. Finally, I want to thank all the children and parents that attended. It’s really you all that we do this for, and your contributions directly benefit the Florida State League Scholarship Fund. I had a great time, and everybody there came together to make this year’s Marlins Spring Training Youth Baseball Clinic a home run (Sorry, I had to).

Pictures from the event can be seen here.

Hands On Helping At Citrus Grove Elementary

Before yesterday, if I were asked what I knew about gardening, it would’ve sounded something like this: “Get a plant or some seeds, dig a hole, put the plant or seeds in the hole, cover with dug-up dirt, water, repeat.”

Easy enough, right? Boy, was I wrong!

Marlins Ayudan team Pulse, captained by SVP of Marketing & Event Booking, Sean Flynn, took on a two-part garden project at Citrus Grove Elementary, a Marlins Ayudan Partner School. Pulse had the privilege of getting a one-on-one beginners lesson in gardening from Darrill Gaschler, COO of Hands On Miami, the Official Service Partner of Marlins Ayudan.


The first part of the project was to restore the school’s vegetable and herb garden. The entire garden needed to be cleared out. All plants were uprooted, the cinder block beds dismantled and the weeds and grass raked out. This was definitely the most laborious part of the whole project.


The next step was to roll out a weed barrier cloth, horizontally, back and forth, until the entire garden floor was covered.


Once this step was complete, team Pulse began to rebuild three garden beds, laying cinder blocks in the shape of rectangles. The beds were then filled with organic soil. The original dirt could not be used because of the possibility of chemical contamination, such as lead, that leeches into the ground during the building process and thereafter.


A hose connected to a rain barrel was run through the beds beneath the soil so that the garden could be self-sufficient: a hose timer on the barrel will allow the garden to “water itself.” Finally, mulch was laid all around the outside of the beds.


The second part of the day consisted of re-beautifying the front entrance welcome sign of Citrus Grove. Native, self-sustaining plants like Milkweed and Yellow top were planted. These plants should stay beautiful all year round with little to no maintenance!


Stay tuned for our next project at Citrus Grove Elementary later this month. Team Pulse will return to team up with 5th grade students and teachers to wrap up the garden project with the planting of vegetables and herbs.



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