The Academy Is…
by Noah Frank
After years of conceptualizing and planning, the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy recently opened its doors for academic programming. While construction on the building and fields at the Academy’s permanent home isn’t slated to finish until the end of November, enrollment has already skyrocketed from 21 students on the first day to more than 50 today.
In partnership with Higher Achievement, the Academy currently offers after-school programming from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., three days a week. As enrollment grows, so does the need for mentors. The Academy will cap its first-year student enrollment at around 90, with a goal of 60 mentors, each volunteering one day a week. The Academy is currently housed at nearby Kimball Elementary School, but will move into its permanent home in January of 2014 upon completion of construction.
“What once was a plan on paper is now a reality,” said Tal Alter, the Academy’s executive director. “We’ve worked so hard to get here and we’re excited to welcome our first scholar-athletes into the program, which will offer local youth with a place they can flourish through unparalleled academic and athletic support.”
The facility itself will include three lighted baseball and softball fields, an 18,000 square foot, two-story LEED certified “educational clubhouse” with eight classrooms, a community room, teaching kitchen, additional flex space, offices and indoor training facilities with batting cages.
With plans to enroll a new class of third graders every year, the program is expected to grow to nearly 1,000 student-athletes by September, 2019. Additional programming for grades K-2 is also slated to begin in the first five years, expanding the Academy’s reach to a full range of K-12 scholar-athletes.
Situated in Ward 7’s Fort Dupont Park, the Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to use the sports of baseball and softball as a vehicle to foster positive character development, academic achievement and improved health among at-risk Washington, D.C. youth. A public-private collaboration, the initiative has been made possible thanks to donations from the Lerner Family, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, Major League Baseball and the District of Columbia, along with other corporate and individual community and philanthropic leaders.
You can watch the progress of construction on the facility live, with our on-site camera.
If you would like to apply to be a mentor, please contact Chris Reed at Christopher.Reed@nationals.com for more information.