On Monday, November 12, the University of San Francisco awarded the 2012 California Prize to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were honored for their community work in the areas of education, health and violence prevention, and their support of Junior Giants leagues throughout Northern California, Nevada, and Oregon. Accepting the California Prize on behalf of the Giants was Larry Baer, President and CEO.
The San Francisco Giants and the Giants Community Fund work together to identify, develop, support, and raise awareness for people, issues, and programs that are important to their fans and the Bay Area community.
Community involvement is a top priority within the Giants organization and all employees, from the players to the front-office staff, are engaged in service. Over 350 community-related events are held each year, ranging from hospital and school visits to golf tournaments and meet and greets with the players and coaches. Some players have developed their own programs, while other players lend their support to causes in the form of appearances, financial contributions, and the taping of public service announcements.
The Giants Community Fund, established in 1991, collaborates with the San Francisco Giants by using baseball as a forum to encourage underserved youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives.
In 1994, the Board of Directors of the fund launched the Junior Giants Program to give at-risk youth a meaningful partnership with community-based organizations and provide an alternative to drugs, gangs, and crime.
The Junior Giants Program now serves more than 20,000 children, ages 5 to 18. The program is administered in more than 85 different leagues through the efforts of Police Activities Leagues (PAL), Parks and Recreation Departments, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and caring community members, all of whom serve as the commissioners, coaches, umpires, and mentors for the boys and girls who participate.
Junior Giants provides character training and baseball instruction during the summer in areas where community/youth programs are needed most—in the inner cities and outlying rural communities. The Fund provides each league with the necessary baseball equipment needed for games and practice, and each player and coach is given a Junior Giants T-shirt and Giants cap.
Unique among youth league programs, it is a free, non-competitive program that places a higher value on character than on wins and losses. To further that goal, the Community Fund has created initiatives—such as the Round the Bases Reading Program and the "Strike Out Violence" Speakers Series—that reinforce the value of education, violence prevention, and healthy living.