In 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays, in association with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, established the Racial Equality Grant Fund. It was an initiative meant to help distribute funds among local groups that aimed to end racial inequality and each year five new organizations would be selected to evenly split $100,000.
For 2022, the groups selected to receive $20,000 each are:
Arts Conservatory for Teens: an organization dedicated to improving the lives of teens by providing arts education to under-served school systems and communities.
Brain Expansions Scholastic Training: which aims to prepare youth for a future as medica professionals.
Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services: a non-religious community group whose mission is to protect the vulnerable and help people achieve fulfilling lives by empowering individuals and strengthening families.
Pace Center for Girls Hillsborough County: provides health, mental health, education services, and vocational help for girls 11-17.
The Skills Center: a sports-based youth development organization who promote sports intentionally infused with life skills and academics.
In addition to the donations above — which will be given out during Sunday’s game against the Red Rox — there will be celebrations over the course of the weekend that focus on Robinson himself. April 15, all players across baseball will sport “42” jerseys to celebrate Robinson and his historic breaking of baseball’s color barrier. The Rays will also be giving out Jackie Robinson caps to attendees of Sunday’s game.
The Rays staff will also be working alongside volunteers from Bayfront Health to build 12 garden beds that will become the 16th Street Community Garden at 1519 16th St. South in St. Petersburg. According to the Rays press release, “This project is an opportunity to improve health in local neighborhoods by beautifying the landscape and establishing a garden to combat food deserts.”
Rays President Brian Auld explained the initiative (and the fund’s donations) and what it means to the Rays. “Jackie Robinson paved the way and set an example, not just through his impact in baseball, but how he lived his life—with determination, integrity, and a commitment to social justice. Our organization shares these core beliefs... From supporting local non-profits through grant programs to building sustainable gardens to strengthen the African American community, we remain committed to finding ways to create positive change for all.”
On Saturday the 16th, the team will host a community event at Belmont Heights Little League, a historic league in East Tampa where more than 300 youth ballplayers take the field each year. During the event, Rays will donate equipment and provide free concessions for guests.