Cover Photo

More Than Just a Game

The Miami Marlins Foundation

2. Zero Hunger 4. Quality Education 5. Gender Equality

Overview

The Miami Marlins organization and Foundation are businesses based upon the prosperity of the greater Miami area, their baseball culture, educating the community, and supplying sustainable resources for overall growth. The Miami Marlins is a baseball franchise originally founded in 1991 that then entered the Major League Baseball Organization (MLB) in 1993. They have many different sources of income, but the main goals and initiatives of the organization go beyond the ballpark. Their innovation is not based on the field or in the dugout, but rather their overall investment in building a better community, creating better business and player role modeling for the future, and introducing better life skills and educational opportunities. The Marlins organization has gone through many changes within overall ownership and management, but their most important impact and point of opportunity is partnering with their fans and culture. Their plan of impact is to build a better future and society for their family and home regions, which will in turn create a more positive sports culture and source of living for growth. Their means of providing these goals are through baseball/education academies, local and international food drives, and breaking the gender barrier for business on all levels with strong role models and resources.

Authors

Bryan Peters

Bryan Peters

Wasim Mustafa

Wasim Mustafa

Jarod Day

Jarod Day

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

Goal 2: End Hunger/Food Security

This innovation can be highlighted around the many food drives, programs (present and future), and youth baseball academy/school systems. The need for these programs comes from research and interviews conducted by the Miami Marlins foundation to help find solutions and aid for the community of the Southern Florida region, as well as the initiatives for academies in the Dominican Republic.

The Marlins have given a total of 1.4 million meals or more year to date. The Marlins are also working on a higher level of sustainability by opening up and providing food pantries attached to southern Florida school systems so children can consistently bring food home to families and have a constant flow of organic groceries and meals readily available. This will also be in collaboration with the Miami Marlins very own Loan Depot Park Garden. The garden provides the communities with fresh organic foods and resources to share and promote health and reduce community hunger. The garden will act as a tree bank to produce trees that can be given out to the community so it can further plant and produce more gardens and food banks or pantries based on the growth.

“What we’re looking to do is not just be reactive to an issue, but to look at sustainable ways to help solve for those issues over time because success in the food security space is when you no longer need to be serving over a million meals, because now the community is able to get the food they need themselves to provide for their families.” - Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation.

Goal 4: Building Inclusive and Equitable Quality of Education

The innovation involved with this can be set around the many different educational programs and institutes created by the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, along with the Miami Marlins Foundation, has worked efficiently and effectively to ensure future educational growth for the community, as well as their own staff and players. By doing this it will provide the fans, community and the Southern region of Florida as a whole a better standard of living and stronger set of role models to help shape the future.

The three main education pillars and community impact areas for the Miami Marlins team and foundation are: wellness, empowerment, and youth teamwork. Under wellness, the Marlins focus on breaking barriers on youth academic success and mental health wellness. Mental health awareness is highlighted with their “Great Minds, Great Athletes” program, which gives students, youth players and other peers the opportunity to share their mental health emotions. Students and athletes can then talk about how the COVID environment and lack of regular society and sports can affect their well-being, as well as their learning curve. With empowerment, the Marlins focus on education initiatives which can range from scholarships to programs that provide educational courses and supplies for up to 9,000 students annually. Finally, youth teamwork highlights the cognitive social/emotional learning that comes with the youth teams and academy. These are the skills and morals learned through traits and experiences with failure, resilience, teamwork, sharing, courage, risk, opportunity, and time management. The Marlins feel that a large percentage and amount of high level business leaders and executives across the world come from understanding and being student athletes.

The Marlins also focus their education innovation around their player development program based out of the Dominican Republic, and coming soon to Venezuela, where their baseball academy resides. At the Marlins academy, minor league players as well as international players and prospects can work to obtain their GED or High School equivalent diploma. Courses that are readily available are cultural courses, different language courses, mathematics, sciences and much more to help adapt and account for language barriers and missing education on the field and within the community. Here, the Marlins offer and require their Spanish speaking players to learn the English language, and their English speaking players to learn the Spanish language. This is completely innovative and exclusive amongst all sports industries and leagues, as the Marlins look to set the bar high and provide educational equality as well as constructive collaboration. These athletes and players can also be portrayed as role models and heroes to provide motivation within the community to see the change and growth in education as they learn the importance and impact.

“Everyone can understand the level of pressure that the student athlete faces on a daily basis and we provide them with the correct support to help them and in that process… we saw that really come to light with Simone Biles in the Olympics and other athletes that have really stepped up and said this is a challenge… we're also addressing this collaboratively with other leaders in the community… ensuring sustainability and growth so that we're not just reacting to build sustainable longer-term resources… but also ensuring that sustainability of the program can continue well beyond our involvement…” - Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation.

Goal 5: Empower Women/Achieve Gender Equality

The highest level of innovation since the new ownership group stepped into the Miami Marlins foundation came from this goal. It is one of the most important goals and initiatives that the Miami Marlins can take complete original credit for and own across the board amongst all professional sports leagues and franchises. Women empowerment and equality in the workplace is number one and a massive part of the Marlins family and culture. The Marlins organization takes pride in being one of the most diverse front offices and overall organizations across the MLB. Whether it's with baseball operations or business operations, the Marlins have been paving the way to have diversity and women’s representation at the top of their organization. This will help further push the innovation to promote and hire more female business leaders and executives for the future to come.

The Miami Marlins news heard around the world was on November 13, 2020, and was groundbreaking and inspiring to say the least. The Marlins organization, led by baseball legend Derek Jeter, lobbied and successfully hired the first female General Manager in sports history. Breaking through the glass ceiling at the forefront of sports history was Kim Ng. This was a huge barrier that was finally crossed, thanks to the Miami Marlins ownership group, lead mainly by Derek Jeter, who knew that women in sports holds a much stronger value and can change the game for the better, it just needed to be done and Kim Ng was a more than perfect candidate. As a leader and organization the Marlins are known to host live panels, active working women’s events and fundraisers, as well as women empowerment nights at the ballpark to show young women and girls that they can hold a high business role or baseball role within a completely male dominated industry and market. Further, that women can have a huge positive impact and bring different skills and perspectives to the table.

Even before that milestone, on the business executive level, in 2017 the Miami Marlins also hired a female Chief Operating Officer to join their front office and become a role model for women in the workplace everywhere. Caroline O’Connor completely embodies the definition of inspiration for women empowerment across all businesses. She was not only inspiring and groundbreaking for the front office level executives, but for all female business workers and leaders within the Marlins organization, as well as around the whole sports industry. It has given many women hope and happiness to pay justice to the lack of representation and opportunity that is presented to them. Just by doing this the Marlins can change their facilities and resources to be more tailored to women’s needs, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, healthcare and medical facilities, womens gear and clothes, and much more.

“When the Marlins look at talent, we're not looking at are you a man or a woman, we are looking at what's the best talent for the role and who's the best fit for the role in our culture, and Kim absolutely was. When the new ownership came on board and Caroline O’Connor became Chief of Staff, and then Chief Operating Officer, she was the right person for the role, and I think we've been fortunate enough to have women on our executive team in a number of different roles. We have women leading diversity… and our main intention and what we try and look at is the best talent for the role no matter what it is, giving women and minorities huge opportunities.” - Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation.

More Than Just a Game

Inspiration

The Miami Marlins wanted to shift their work from volume to impact when brainstorming how they wanted to impact their surrounding community. They wanted to make certain that their work in the community was measurable so they could tell how their impact was creating results. They started by completing an inventory of what the foundation had done in the past. They did so by interviewing community leaders, owners, employees and fans to get a feel of what their impact was in the past and how they should pivot in the future to address the needs of the area where they could make the most impact. The team conducted research to better understand what were the true needs of the community. After the inventory and research they decided to focus their efforts on South Florida and the Dominican Republic with regards to wellness and empowerment. When addressing wellness they tackle issues such as food security and mental health and when addressing empowerment they have their educational initiatives.

Goal 2: End Hunger/Food Security

The motivation behind ending hunger and addressing food insecurity in the community is to provide meals for those who are in need, in addition to creating long term sustainable solutions. The purpose for a long term sustainable solution is to solve the root problem so the Miami Marlins Foundation and others do not have to provide millions of meals every year. The long term solution of planting gardens and educating community members how to do so empowers them to feed themselves in an effective way.

Goal 4: Building Inclusive and Equitable Quality of Education

The motivation or purpose to providing educational opportunities to young people and their own players is the fact that education provides more opportunities in life. Education can solve many societal problems because it provides more freedom and financial security in life. The Marlins organization and foundation acknowledges this and provides educational opportunities to truly change many lives.

Goal 5: Empower Women/Achieve Gender Equality

The motivation or purpose of hiring a female General Manager and Chief Operating Officer is to hire the most qualified person while also pushing other organizations and businesses to hire qualified women in male dominated industries. This move to put women in powerful positions provides confidence to other women in the Marlins organization and others that they belong. The move to hire more qualified women has an effect on the local community and society as it encourages providing more opportunity and respect for women as a whole.

“ One of the things that we were trying to be strategic and innovative about in terms of setting the course of our community and foundation work moving forward was that we really wanted to shift from volume to impact. We wanted to make sure the work we were doing in the community was measurable.” - Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation.

Overall impact

Providing an impact in the community and on the player development side is great for business for any organization. When you provide opportunities to players to expand their minds while also impacting the local communities this can ultimately lead them to become better players. This process leads to more wins and more fans coming into the stadium. More fans in the stadium means higher revenues for the organization. When you impact so many citizens, this also encourages them to attend the Marlins’ games to support the team. Doing good in the community is good for business and this fact does not change in the Miami Marlins case.

Goal 2: End Hunger/Food Security

The impact of the food drives, food pantries, and teaching how to garden is providing meals to millions of people in the South Florida area. This short-term solution of providing meals to so many is important to live nutritional lives which leads to greater success. The long-term solution of teaching the community to garden is that citizens can now grow their own produce which takes pressure off of them to get food for themselves and their families.

Goal 4: Building Inclusive and Equitable Quality of Education

The impact of scholarships, school supplies, and educational opportunities such as tutoring is the easier access to education and encouragement. This enables the young people and players in their community to pursue their education without barriers stopping them. Education is an avenue to financial freedom, ultimately improving the lives of many.

Goal 5: Empower Women/Achieve Gender Equality

The impact on society of hiring females in executive positions is that it will eventually become commonplace for that to happen. Kim Ng is the first female General Manager in the big four sports leagues and she will not be the last. This ultimately creates more opportunities for women which creates many long-lasting impacts on society. More qualified women being in executive positions leads to more successful organizations, economic prosperity for women, and more. This will profoundly affect men in organizations in a positive light which can even lead to less violence towards women. The impacts of gender equality are long and the Miami Marlins are profoundly aware of this.

From an environmental perspective, the team and foundation have taken steps to mitigate their impact and contribute to clean solutions. The change from a real grass field to an artificial turf field was beneficial with regards to saving water and providing a place to grow a food garden so others could sustainably grow their food.

The short-term effects of what the Miami Marlins are doing are ending hunger in the present, providing opportunities for women to grow and impact the organization, and taking away barriers to education that can hurt students and players, preventing them from learning. The long-term effects are the sustainable solutions they provide such as growing gardens, educational opportunities such as scholarships and classes, and empowering women in the workplace of a male-dominated industry. The Marlins are focused on sustainable solutions to make impactful change in their community.

Concrete evidence with regards to food insecurity is that they have provided 1.4 million meals to those in the South Florida area. They have given out school supplies to 9,000 students and have their own players earn a GED, in addition to having players learn English or Spanish as a second language. In the past year they have awarded 11 scholarships in the community and in 4 of their “Slugger School Houses” they have provided programming which has positively impacted over 1,000 kids. In their “Great Minds Great Athletes” program they have launched in 18 local schools and have impacted over 5,000 student-athletes.

“Since COVID began we have served over 1.4 million meals to the local community. Our youth baseball and softball offerings this year impacted over 45,000 kids.” - Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation.

Business benefit

The consistent opportunities to give back to the community in helping with hunger, education and gender equality creates a good and welcoming company culture. A positive company culture allows for the organization to attract and retain the best people to further these innovative opportunities. With this ongoing ability to help in any way, the Marlins create a brand awareness that always associates themselves with a positive sentiment. This is crucial as future partners would want to associate and do business with teams as such. The combination of innovative ideas and potential business partners helps to achieve revenue targets while also diversifying their revenue streams. Engaging corporate partners in this collective effort to be helpful in society creates an even bigger impact in the community than the Marlins imagined.

Social and environmental benefit

In a male-dominated sport, the Marlins took precedence in hiring the first female General Manager, Kim Ng. This representation allowed for more women to see a potential career in baseball, allowing the organization to create equal opportunities for all genders. With women in positions such as the General manager, Professional Scouting Manager and Chief Operating Officer, the Marlins show the value that women bring to these roles. Additionally, with an increase in more women, the company needed to create more inclusive facilities and order supplies for players and staff. That meant creating more women’s bathrooms as well as ordering more women's clothes. In doing so, women feel the welcoming culture and want to be a part of the Marlins either as a fan or on the staff. For the players, with their being such an emphasis on their education these players become more than just celebrities. These educated players can then educate society, teaching and mentoring beyond sports.

As the Marlins moved away from using real grass on their field, they chose to use turf as the new surface for the field. The old growing area for the grass turned into a food garden. The community assisted in planting the garden and is now maintained by the grounds crew of the company. This food garden created a sustainable way for the organization to help community hunger while still being mindful of the environment. The Marlins also took this opportunity to grow food trees that could then be given to people in the community to have them grow their own garden as well. The impact of this innovation furthered itself into being educational as students are brought in to learn about food and the food that they can grow. Also, in alignment with being sustainable, the Marlins partake in bay and ocean clean ups to continue to help in any way they can.

Interview

Rocky Egusquiza, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation

Photo of interviewee

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The Miami Marlins Foundation

The Miami Marlins Foundation

Miami, FL, US

Business Website: https://www.mlb.com/marlins

Year Founded: 1991

Number of Employees: 201 to 500

The Miami Marlins Foundation makes a positive impact on South Florida by creating opportunities for youth to stay active, achieve academic success, and build leadership skills. Their programs focus on wellness, empowerment, and youth baseball & softball.