Introduced in 2009 and heading into its eighth year in 2016, the Yankees' HOPE Week initiative (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.
On each of five consecutive days during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Each day is designed so honorees can share their inspirational stories with Yankees players, fans and the media, while being surprised with the day of their dreams. Though each day's celebration ultimately culminates with a visit to Yankee Stadium on the day of a game, outreach typically takes place at a location in the community that symbolizes the accomplishments of the honoree.
The Yankees have been proud to announce the dates of each year's HOPE Week at a kickoff event at George M. Steinbrenner Field during spring training. The announcement provides an opportunity to honor a local individual or institution that is doing great works in the Tampa Bay area, which is the Yankees' spring home.
At its core, HOPE Week is about people helping people. The one thing everybody has - no matter where they come from, what their financial situation is or what kind of skills they possess - is time. By involving every one of our players and coaches, Manager Joe Girardi, General Manager Brian Cashman and the entire front office staff during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place.
Equally significant during HOPE Week is garnering publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.
The Yankees' HOPE Week initiative is an organizational effort, integrating players, coaches, the Yankees front office, dozens of sponsors and some of New York's most iconic social and corporate institutions.
The 2016 season will mark the fifth consecutive year in which all of the Yankees' U.S.-based affiliates will each hold their own HOPE Weeks, truly making this initiative one that the entire organization stands behind in words and in action.
The initial phase of HOPE Week planning involves the selection of the honorees. In order to draw on the most diverse and inspiring group possible, an online nomination form is made available to the public on yankees.com. Additionally, the Yankees Media Relations Department reviews general fan mail and independently reaches out to other public social institutions to find exceptional individuals to recognize.
HOPE Week is designed to be an event that fans look forward to every year. Throughout the five-day stretch of games, the HOPE Week narrative is woven into the Yankees' on-field activities. Honorees are treated like members of the team, joining players and coaches next to the hitting cage during batting practice and on the field after victories for celebratory high fives. They also participate in traditional pregame festivities, including ceremonial first pitches and the exchange of team lineup cards. Most importantly, all are given a platform to tell their inspiring stories in their own voices.
As is the HOPE Week tradition, all celebrants from prior years are invited back to celebrate with current honorees. The gesture of returning to give back where they once received symbolizes what HOPE Week aspires to be.
Each of the five honorees during HOPE Week is given a day of their dreams, complete with surprise elements involving Yankees players, dignitaries and celebrities. Throughout the entire process, local, national and international media are given the opportunity to film, record and report on events to allow for comprehensive storytelling over a complete range of media platforms. The goal is to give these exemplary individuals the largest possible audience to hear their inspirational messages.
All events are designed to generate attention and raise the profile of serious social issues affecting our nation and the world. Beyond getting these stories into the mainstream media, the Yankees organization looks to reward honorees for their fortitude in the face of adversity.
The attention that HOPE Week has brought to different causes and charities has changed lives permanently for the better. Within three weeks of being honored during the 2011 celebration, Daniel's Music Foundation was able to increase the number of students in its programs from 150 to 250, allowing 100 additional disabled men, women and children in New York City to receive free therapeutic music instruction. More recently, the group moved into a new, state-of-the-art, 8,700-square-foot barrier-free music studio and education center to better serve their clients.
The Yankees are proud that the Minnesota Twins have been inspired to hold their own HOPE Week the last five seasons. Other organizations and community groups, including Southern Boulevard School Elementary school in Chatham Township, N.J., have also begun similar HOPE-themed projects to give back in their respective communities. In 2014 and 2015, each grade at Southern Boulevard School took on a different service initiative, inspired by the notion that no one is too young to begin giving back.
Tuesday, August 18:
The Yankees donated $10,000 to the Prospector Theater.
Wednesday, August 19:
To honor the Southern Boulevard School, the Yankees donated $2,500 to each of four charities that the school raises money for (The Community Food Bank of N.J.; Family Promise of Morris County; Summit Women's Club/Area Baby Center; and Project Linus of N.J.).
Friday, August 21:
The Yankees donated $10,000 to Baking Memories 4 Kids.