Princeton, N.J.—In the milestone 10th year of the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has selected seven organizations as finalists in three categories. The winners will be announced on September 18, 2014, at an exclusive event in Princeton, N.J., where RWJF will host award applicants, past winners and the review committee for a day of learning, networking and celebrating excellence in the field.
“Across the board, the quality of our applicant pool this year was inspiring,” said Fred Mann, associate vice president of communications for RWJF. “The review process was difficult, but the seven finalist organizations have truly distinguished themselves by their leadership and community impact.”
In the category for individual athletes and professional coaches, the 2014 finalists are the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.
The Tiger Woods Foundation focuses on improving college access for underserved youth, primarily through the advancement of STEM education. The organization’s two flagship initiatives are the Earl Woods Scholarship Program for first-generation scholars and Tiger Woods Learning Centers (TWLC), which target grades 5-12 in high-need communities. Since 1996, the Tiger Woods Foundation has distributed $80 million and 100 percent of Earl Woods scholars have graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism was established by retired NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie, in response to their personal experience raising a son, Doug Jr., on the autism spectrum. The Flutie Foundation has raised over $16 million since 1998, ensuring that people with autism are equipped and empowered to thrive.
In the category for professional sports team foundations and community relations departments, Jays Care Foundation (Toronto Blue Jays—Major League Baseball), the Portland Timbers (Major League Soccer), and the Chicago Fire Foundation (MLS) have advanced to the final round of consideration.
Jays Care Foundation is the charitable arm of Canada’s only MLB team. Established in 1992, the foundation has grown exponentially from a regional focus in Toronto to a “clubhouse” the size of Canada, investing in children and communities from coast-to-coast.
The Timbers are the only MLS team, and one of few teams in all professional sports, to have a separate brand for their community work. Under the banner of “Stand Together,” the Timbers harness the power of sport to improve the lives of children and families in the region through focus areas including youth sports and activities, education, and the environment. Since its creation, “Stand Together” has awarded nearly $1.5 million in cash and in-kind donations.
The Chicago Fire Foundation, established in 1998, is the first nonprofit created by an MLS team. In addition to its significant financial investment, the foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of the community, particularly its youth, and utilizing the sport of soccer through innovative programs such as PLAYS, Passback and Kicks for Kids to further extend its reach across the Chicagoland area.
Whichever team wins, it will represent a first in the Patterson Award’s 10-year history. While four MLB franchises have previously won the Patterson Award, Jays Care Foundation would be the first Canadian organization honored. And while the U.S. Soccer Foundation was presented with the Patterson Award in 2010, no MLS franchise has won to date.
The third category for Patterson Award applications is open to professional sports leagues, player associations and sports philanthropy organizations. RWJF has selected Playworks and Harlem RBI as the 2014 finalists in this area.
Playworks is the leading nonprofit in the country leveraging recess to increase childhood physical activity, presently serving 180,000 students every school day at 380 low-income elementary schools. By 2016, Playworks has set a goal of operating in 27 cities across the country.
Founded in 1991, Harlem RBI is a unique youth development program based in East Harlem, New York, with operations extending to the South Bronx. The organization has grown to serve more than 1,500 boys and girls annually, ages 5-22, providing them with year-round sports, educational and enrichment activities. Since 2005, 97 percent of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school and 94 percent of seniors have matriculated at college.
About Steve Patterson
Steve became widely known as a member of three John Wooden-coached NCAA championship basketball teams at UCLA (1969/1970/1971), as an NBA player (1972-76), and as head coach at Arizona State University (1985-89). But his contributions off the court—uniting businesses and communities to help those less fortunate—have proven his most enduring. After Steve's death from cancer at age 56, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created this award in 2005 as the first, and most prestigious, of its kind. The Patterson Award is a tribute to Steve’s legacy, celebrating and promoting the selfless effort of those within the world of sports who make a difference in the lives around them.
Previous Patterson Award Winners