The coronavirus pandemic has sidelined the Yankees for the time being, but the organization is nonetheless moving ahead with its second annual edition of a scholarship program benefitting queer high school seniors.
The organization is distributing a total of $50,000 in scholarships among five different college-bound seniors, at $10,000 apiece, with one student coming from each borough.
The Stonewall Scholars initiative is led by the city Department of Education in conjunction with the Yankees, Stonewall Inn, the Mayor’s Office, Major League Baseball, and Athlete Ally, a group that wrks to encourage acceptance and participation of LGBTQ athletes at all levels of sports.
The program launched last year in a move that appeared as somewhat of a concession by the organization following pressure from the community to schedule a Pride night game, which had by then become a standard annual event for most teams. The team agreed to hold a pre-game ceremony honoring the students as well as a separate ceremony at the Stonewall Inn.
This year’s recipients are Tamia “Tee” Barnard of the Bronx, who attends the High School for Law, Advocacy, and Community Justice in Manhattan; Lauren Hidalgo of Queens, who attends Francis Lewis High School in Queens; Cole Neufeld of Manhattan, who attends Bard High School Early College Manhattan; and two more students — one from Brooklyn and one from Staten Island — whose names were not made public.
Because the coronavirus crisis is preventing the team from recognizing the scholars in a pre-game ceremony, they were instead congratulated in a June 1 Zoom chat featuring Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Yankees senior vice president of corporate/ community relations Brian Smith, the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative co-founder and CEO Stacy Lentz, Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza, Department of Education manager of LGBTQ programs Eric Vaughan, and Department of Education special assistant to the chancellor Juan Rosales.
“It was an honor to meet with so many bright young people, and it gave a lot of hope to me, especially with what is going on in the world today,” Cashman said in a written statement. “It’s clear that our five scholarship recipients will be agents of change as we continue along the path of making the world a safer, more accepting and inclusive place. Congratulations for standing out among a truly inspiring group of individuals. We also want to thank the Stonewall Inn for paving the way for so many. We hope to connect what it stands for with the voice of the Yankees organization to empower young people toward lives of meaningful action and change.”
The Yankees posted a plaque in the stadium last year that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which reads in part, “This plaque serves to honor the struggle for equality and is a reminder of the richness we gain by nurturing inclusion and diversity.”
Last year’s scholars were Francheska Colon of the Bronx, Ashley Farrell of Staten Island, Hugh Goldstein of Queens, Alex Rosado of Manhattan, and a student from Brooklyn whose name was not publicized.
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