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MLB.com

08/01/2005 3:40 PM ET
Baseball Tomorrow Fund, Peace Corps support world growth of baseball
Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant expected to benefit more than 2,400 youth in eight countries

As part of the ongoing commitment from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to increase youth participation in baseball and softball throughout the world, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund awarded a grant of $65,695 to the United States Peace Corps. The grant, which is expected to benefit more than 2,400 youth in eight countries, will provide funding for Peace Corps programs in which volunteers will be able to explain the game of baseball and teach core baseball and softball skills.

Peace Corps volunteers in Bulgaria, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Samoa, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Panama are working in conjunction with local organizations and officials in those countries to establish or enhance existing youth baseball and softball programs. A country-by-country description of each project follows at the end of the press release.

"Major League Baseball, its Clubs and its players are committed to enhancing opportunities for youth throughout the world to experience the thrill of baseball and softball," said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director, Baseball Tomorrow Fund. "The Peace Corps grant will help facilitate the growth of existing baseball and softball programs while also introducing the game to even more children."

"Sharing the national pastime with youth around the world does more than just encourage kids to improve their athletic skills," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "Peace Corps youth development volunteers can attest that having focused, fun activities, such as baseball, helps youth increase their self-esteem, set goals, encourage team-building and prevents kids from engaging in delinquent behavior."

About the Baseball Tomorrow Fund
Since its inception in 1999, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, has awarded grants totaling more than $8.5 million and benefiting nearly 100,000 youth participating in more than 170 youth baseball and softball programs across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, U.S. Virgin Islands and Europe. By providing assistance to Peace Corps volunteers, this is the first time the Baseball Tomorrow Fund is supporting programs and projects in Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, and Moldova. For more information visit www.baseballtomorrowfund.com.

About Peace Corps Volunteers
Peace Corps volunteers are uniquely positioned to provide learning opportunities to girls and boys at the grass-roots level, since they live in the communities, understand the culture and traditions and speak the local language. The volunteers serve as role models who help the youth maintain healthy lifestyles and prepare them for their roles in the world of work and in family life. Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture.

Following are the countries receiving a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant and a description of each project:

Bulgaria
Peace Corps volunteers are working to create boys and girls Little League teams that will reach out to orphanages in Slatina. In addition, Greer wants to develop a stable program by creating a regular practice facility and introduce baseball and softball into the athletic curriculum in the local schools. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant will be used to purchase baseball and softball equipment and materials to build a playing field in efforts to reach more than 400 youth.

Turkmenistan
For the first time ever, baseball leagues will be formed and two fields will be built in the regions of Dashoguz and Mary of Turkmenistan. Peace Corps volunteers are working with local community leaders to oversee the formation of leagues and the construction of the fields and train approximately 500 boys and girls in the fundamentals of baseball. The goal is to provide Turkmenistan youth the resources to develop, learn and play baseball in a constructive, gender-inclusive and respectful atmosphere and promote team building, self-esteem, gender equality and community involvement. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant will be used to purchase equipment.

Moldova
Peace Corps volunteers have been teaching baseball as a way to offer organized programs for youth that provide something productive to do as well as learn teamwork, make new friends, build self-esteem, learn a new skill and have fun. The Peace Corps also is working with local organizations and individuals to organize a summer baseball camp which is expected to include 90 participants representing nine teams. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant, which is expected to benefit approximately 130 boys and girls, will help continue the development of baseball in Moldova, introduce baseball to various villages and towns, and make baseball programs more sustainable.

Samoa
Coming off the heels of the 2004 International Softball Federation Men's Softball World Championship held in New Zealand, Samoans' interest in the softball has been revitalized. Peace Corps members and Japanese volunteers are leveraging the increased interest in the sport to organize games and clinics, getting approximately 250 youth involved in the project. In the first year, Peace Corps volunteers will work with the Samoan Softball Association to host a softball clinic, organize games, and train villagers on coaching. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant will help provide for the purchase of three sets of softball equipment that will be made available to villagers.

Costa Rica
Peace Corps volunteers are working with the Costa Rican Baseball Federation to promote Little League Baseball and organize training for players and coaches. The volunteers will help teach sportsmanship and the basics of baseball, as well as strengthen and expand existing primary school baseball teams for kids ages 10-12, establish youth teams for those ages 13-16, and set up training camps for coaches, managers and youth. More than 240 youth are expected to benefit from this project. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant was used to purchase baseball and softball equipment and uniforms.

Dominican Republic
Peace Corps members are working with officials from the Major League Baseball Dominican Republic Office to promote baseball by providing much needed equipment, training and organization to teams/leagues in low-income areas. In addition, the project will stimulate an ethic of leadership and solidarity, while providing youth opportunities for healthy out-of-school activities. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant money will help purchase equipment and support the projects in 11 communities.

Honduras
The Peace Corps is working with the National Federation of Baseball to provide training for baseball coaches. The goal is to provide free registration for all newly formed teams so they can participate in national competitions. A training camp for 10 coaches will be held in Tegucigalpa and will assist the coaches in forming youth baseball teams, which are expected to benefit 150 boys and girls. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant will be used to purchase equipment and help facilitate the training camp.

Panama
The Peace Corps volunteers in Panama will help organize teams and develop teamwork skills among approximately 530 youth. By promoting baseball, the volunteers will help to increase interaction and strengthen ties between community members and surrounding areas. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant will be used to purchase equipment, clean, renovate, improve and maintain playing fields in nine communities.