Major League Baseball, USAID, and Former MLB Pitcher Pedro Martinez Join to Help Poor in the Dominican Republic

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
USAID Press Office

Dominican Republic -- Pedro Martinez, one of the most dominating baseball pitchers in the past decade, and his wife, Carolina Cruz de Martinez, and the U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo Charge d'Affaires a.i., Roland Bullen, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Deputy Mission Director James Watson, and Major League Baseball consultant John Seibel, inaugurated today a unique partnership, Project "Hay Poder en Aprender" (There is Power in Learning) in Pedro's and Carolina's hometown community of Manoguayabo in western Santo Domingo.

This project's goal is to help 200 adolescents who live in at-risk situations. Through a combination of vocational training and educational programs, participants recover their self-esteem and dignity, discover their potential talents, and become productive citizens for their community and country. USAID, through Esperanza International and its Major League Baseball-Dominican Development Alliance (MLB-DDA), has committed $100,000 for a one year period.

Mrs. Cruz de Martinez said she became involved with the project as a result of "realizing that many Dominican youth are making poor decisions, which bring about teenage pregnancy and drug use, due to a lack of guidance and opportunities. We strongly believe that knowledge is power and when you give the right tools to a child at an early age, you can change and shape the destiny of his/her life, and therefore improve his/her self-confidence and positive leadership," she said.

Chargé Bullen said that the U.S. Government is engaged in supporting community development in the Dominican Republic and this project is the first of many more to come. He encouraged current Dominican baseball players, newly signed baseball players, academies and baseball fans to contribute through the MLB-DDA and praised the efforts of Pedro and Carolina Cruz de Martinez during his inauguration remarks.

The MLB-DDA was founded in November 2008 to tap the potential combined resources of baseball (teams, players, fans, corporate sponsors) in community outreach programs in the Dominican Republic, a country which currently produces more than 20 percent of all signed MLB players. USAID provides financial support through a matching grant incentive fund, MLB provides office and staff support, and six community development organizations (Esperanza, Plan, World Vision, Save the Children, IDDI, and Batey Relief Alliance) provide technical assistance and project management.

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