Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), sponsored by Major League Baseball, is a program designed to promote the game of baseball to teenage boys and girls in disadvantaged areas. In partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, RBI leagues are maturing in local Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide.
Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) was founded in 1989 in South Central Los Angeles by former Major Leaguer John Young.
Young, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles at a time when the area, noted a significant decrease in the number of skilled athletes emerging from his childhood home and other inner city areas.
Young developed the concept of RBI to overcome obstacles -- including street gangs, a lack of organization, funding and community support -- that prevented disadvantaged youth from learning and enjoying the game of baseball.
More importantly, Young also wanted to use participation in baseball as a means to overcome academic and social disadvantages faced by many inner city kids.
Major League Baseball endorsed the RBI concept and provided financial support for the program, as did the Los Angeles Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles. Young secured equipment and fields for 24 teams. With the support of Santa Monica College, Young was able to create the Academy of Excellence Program to supplement the athletic components of RBI.
The Academy of Excellence Program at Santa Monica College assesses the academic status of the Los Angeles RBI participants and provides a Human Development program. The Academy includes individual tutoring, college and SAT preparation courses, as well as goal setting and time management classes. The Bart Giamatti Award, named after the former Commissioner, is given to the Academy's top student-athlete.
With the help of then-California Angels President Richard Brown, L.A. RBI received a grant for the Academy from the Autry Foundation. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown currently sponsors the Academy of Excellence Program.
A success in Los Angeles, the RBI concept was adopted in New York, St. Louis and Kansas City within two years. Since 1991, the RBI Program has been administered by Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball serves as the central administrative office for RBI and, from 1993-1996, along with Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association provided start-up grants for programs demonstrating financial need.
RBI has been embraced in many communities because it teaches kids that being a success in life takes more than succeeding on the ball field -- it also means succeeding in the classroom and the community.
A large component of the partnership established in early 1997 between MLB and its official charity, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (B&GCA), was the merger and expansion of youth baseball and softball programs conducted separately by the two organizations.
Off the field, local leagues also teach RBI players life skills through Quick SMART! - a condensed, easy-to-use version of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's award winning SMART (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) Moves program.
Developed for RBI, Quick SMART! addresses the issues of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and HIV/AIDS prevention and education for 13-18 year olds.
Each August, Major League Baseball sponsors the RBI World Series. Winners of regional RBI tournaments meet for the chance to win championships in one of three divisions: the junior boys (13-15 year olds), senior boys (16-18 year olds) or girls softball (15-18 year olds).
"The RBI program has many benefits," said New York Yankee broadcaster Roberto Clemente Jr., who founded the Pittsburgh RBI program and is involved with the San Juan program.
"It keeps kids out of trouble and off the streets, while at the same time teaching them to stay in school. They earn self-esteem and self-respect," he said. "The educational components help them realize their potential and work toward receiving college scholarships based not only on athletics, but academics."
Meanwhile, John Young -- the "father" of RBI -- continues to be amazed by the success his program has achieved. "It's like a child to me," he said. "To see the magnitude of RBI -- what it has grown into -- is unbelievable. It's like a dream come true."
RBI currently serves over 120,000 boys and girls in 185 cities worldwide.