Rising to the Occasion: How the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are hitting home runs in their communities
October means playoff baseball. It’s the month of the most gloriously unexpected. Moments of heroes that rise to the occasion when the pressure is on, like Gibson’s walk-off against the A’s in 1988. And we’ve seen legendary performances from teams you thought had the odds stacked against them, like the 1906 White Sox “Hitless Wonders” who secured the title. As we watch four talented teams battle in their respective series, you may be eagerly asking yourself what will be the story we remember this year?
In the spirit of 2020, I’m going to flip the switch a little bit on that narrative and focus on a different story. Two of these teams facing off - the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves - have already risen to the occasion when their communities were affected by a situation we all are very familiar with: the pandemic. I’m lucky enough to work with the foundations for each of these teams and I’d like to tell you a little bit about how their foundations are driving impact every day in an area that was unexpected.
We’re used to hearing about the use of data analytics in baseball; teams like the Dodgers and Braves use Sabermetrics every season to determine the optimal hitter-pitcher matchups and answer other questions using data from each game. Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) knew they had to move quickly to get resources into the community when COVID-19 drove the area into crisis-mode, but wanted to make sure they were prioritizing the most vulnerable communities with their available resources. The team combed through their historical impact data, getting answers to questions so they could quickly identify local partners that would address the most pressing needs and respond with support. As of early September, LADF had awarded more than $1 million in grants to organizations helping communities impacted by COVID-19 and social injustice. In a year that has proven impossible to predict, LADF pivoted to offer all of their support to the community at the center of their organization, investing in local nonprofits.
The Atlanta Braves Foundation launched two new food programs to help those in need during the pandemic, quickly re-allocating resources when it was apparent there would be no April home games. The Home Plate Project provided 43,000 meals to the community using food that was previously purchased for Braves games scheduled in April. The Braves also launched Meals for the Brave to support local restaurants hit hard by the pandemic - purchasing meals and delivering them to front-line workers. Overall in 2020 the organization will be working to supply over 100,000 meals to Braves Country. 100,000! It doesn’t stop there - like with the Dodgers, the Braves have unique relationships across the community and will be donating to 15 community organizations to also connect resources to families and individuals in need. Talk about stepping up to the plate (pun intended)!
So if you’re one of the millions of baseball fans whose team didn’t reach the NLCS or ALCS this year - I invite you to root for one of these two teams with incredible stories of local impact. Am I biased? Of course. But when we see local organizations taking a stand, investing in tools to drive impact in the areas most important to its local community, it’s inspiring and shouldn’t be ignored. The actions these teams are taking go beyond a logo, and the outcomes of their work show that the impact in their local communities can go much further than any homerun Cody Bellinger or Ronald Acuna could hit. But we’ll take those too...
I should note that the Dodgers and Braves are far from the only teams making a difference in their communities. Ask your favorite team what they’re up to and tag @UpMetrics so we can see how they’re measuring their impact!