The Impact of COVID-19 on Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy

WASHINGTON, DC - (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /

The impact of COVID-19 extends to many branches of the Washington Nationals organization, including the children and staff associated with Washington Nationals Academy.

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented halt in in virtually every facet of life in America and abroad. The suspension of the Major League Baseball season has left fans dejected, but its impact on the significant work that the Washington Nationals do in the local community is even more jarring. This is especially true at Washington Nationals Baseball Academy.

The Nationals most influential philanthropic effort, Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, is located in Ward 7’s Fort Dupont Park.  “Nat’s Academy, as it is often referred, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that uses baseball and softball as a tool to cultivate character development, academic excellence, and improve health practices among youth from underserved communities in Washington D.C. The Academy supports after school programming for 120 student-athletes in grades 3-8.

The Nat’s Academy facility is an 18,000 square foot education center. The campus includes seven class rooms, a full teaching kitchen and multi-purpose/education space.  There are three baseball/softball fields, indoor and outdoor batting cages, and a teaching garden.

Each day, the Academy staff provides homework help, a healthy after school snack and dinner option, mentorship and opportunities to engage in baseball and softball activities to all of it’s scholar-athletes.

COVID-19 has forced the Academy to shut its doors, like most of the District, but the Academy remains determined to continue to serve their students and families. D.C. Public Schools are currently closed until April 27th.  However, Tuesday was the first day of distance education for students, which includes homework packages and video lessons.

Charlie Sperduto, Director of Advocacy & Community Engagement, detailed the Academy’s plans to continue providing assistance to the community.

Sperduto explained that the staff is making personal calls to every one of their current families as well as alumni of the program to determine how to best support each child.

The Academy remains committed to assisting students by implemented a homework helpline, in which staff will use video conferencing to help students with their packets and assignments. The Academy is also prepared to offer technology support(s) to families, helping to create equity while students embark in distance learning.

Additionally, The Academy is continuing to provide meal support by offering fresh and healthy “grab and go” food plates for children each weekday.  The ability for the Academy to continue providing meals and virtual mentorship will allow them to offer hours for part-time staff during the closures.

Finding logical and meaningful hours for the part-time staff has became even more important for Nat’s Academy this year. Fears surrounding COVID-19 forced the Nat’s Academy to postpone their yearly gala a the Anthem in March, which has historically been the Academy’s largest fundraising event.

Like most businesses, dealing with COVID-19 will force the Academy to practice an elevated level of thriftiness, and as Sperduto explains, “reinvent its operations, all guided by the Academy’s mission and values.”  Sperduto continues “staff members are working to create innovative ways to support every family, scholar and staff member in the program.”

COVID-19 has created a great deal of uncertainty for the entire world, and the staff at Nat’s Academy are working hard to navigate these challenging times. Sperduto said, “the Academy will continue being creative and logical while trying to support the families remotely in a world in which we can’t convene.”

If you are interested in learning more or supporting the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, you can find more information here.