inSERVICE: Play Ball!


A joint initiative of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association, the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation (YDF) supports efforts focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs both across the United States and internationally. The organization’s efforts focus on local-based programs as well as organization-wide events like the Hank Aaron Invitational and the HBCU Swingman Classic. The goal? To make youth baseball and softball more accessible to all comers.

The Foundation achieves all of this through a grant program that to date has provided 315 grants totaling $31.2 million. To apply for a grant, interested programs must begin by submitting a letter of inquiry. There is no deadline for these inquiries, as the foundation accepts submissions throughout the year. There is no set funding range for grant requests, but the strongest applicants will have secured funding from other sources prior to applying. 

Several different types of projects are supported by the foundation’s grants:

  • Capital projects, such as field lighting, field renovations or construction.
  • Baseball and softball programs, including player and infrastructure equipment, uniforms, coaches training, background check fees, umpire fees, player registration fees, facility rental fees and field maintenance.
  • Education initiatives, including programs, exhibits and other learning opportunities that use baseball and softball as their primary focus to promote interest and engagement in the game.
  • Public schools and public school booster clubs can receive up to $5,000 for player and infrastructure equipment.

In December 2023, the foundation announced its full roster of 2023 grant recipients, benefiting 36 communities in 24 states with more than $3.6 million in funding, with grants as large as $1 million and as small as $3,000. 

“Impacting local communities is at the heart of what YDF strives to do,” said YDF Executive Director Jean Lee Batrus in a press release. “Providing funds for lights, fields, baseballs and softballs, and so much more, allows every young athlete across the country the opportunity to play baseball or softball and be exposed to the performance and early development opportunities that diamond sports offer.”     RM