Jason Medina grew up across the street from Harlem RBI and watched a field of dreams emerge from a rubble-strewn lot.
Jason admits that he was a short-tempered, arrogant teenager, but Harlem RBI never gave up on him. They encouraged him to finish high school and gave him a much-needed $5,000 scholarship to attend college. There, his love of baseball was supplanted by his educational interests.
Today, he is a community affairs officer with the Metropolitan Police force in Washington, D.C. In 2011, he was named “Police Officer of the Year” in honor of his efforts to clear a drug-infested park and create baseball fields and an entire youth baseball program that is serving hundreds of inner-city children.
In 1991, a group of volunteers turned an empty lot on one of New York City’s toughest streets into a field of dreams. Harlem RBI used the “hook” of recreational baseball leagues to involve the young people of East Harlem in after-school youth development.
Over the past eight years, the organization has become obsessed with improving the educational opportunities of children in the community, going so far as to launch a charter school to support their mission. Since 2004, Harlem RBI’s student-athletes have put up some truly impressive stats: 98% have graduated high school, 94% gained acceptance into college and 99% avoided teen parenthood.
Last year, 100% of their seniors graduated from high school and every single one of them was accepted to college. And that is just one of the reasons why Harlem RBI is one of the most respected organizations in the East Harlem community.