In a neighborhood where many kids might otherwise spend their summer on the streets every day, these boys and girls make their way through the rough streets of East Harlem to their own field of dreams.
They’re part of Harlem RBI, a free, six-week camp for hundreds of elementary through high school kids in New York City. Before taking the field each day, these teams warm up with a few hours of reading and writing.
Nine-year-old Mica isn’t just the star catcher. She’s also determined to go to college and the extra time in the classroom keeps her from getting rusty during her summer vacation.
“They make it really, really, really fun,” Mica said.
Rich Berlin who started off as a volunteer is now the Executive Director.
“Our biggest challenge is when kids walk into us is making sure they understand that this is a safe, supportive environment,” he said.
In East Harlem there is a greater than 50 percent high school dropout rate. For kids who join the Harlem RBI program in middle school, 90 percent will graduate and go on to college.
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira donated a million dollars, but the golden glover does more than write checks. He’s involved in fundraising, strategy…even throwing out the first pitch at this year’s playoffs.
“We get these kids young, at five or six, they can come into the program and we can actually see them grow,” he said.
As for Micah, she can hardly wait until next season. “I would say next year I’m going, and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that” she said.