The U.S. Agency for International Development is seeking partners to implement a new initiative with Major League Baseball which aims to improve education, support children with disabilities and counter domestic violence in the Dominican Republic.
USAID expects one local NGO to be the main implementing partner and will encourage it to create coalitions with other nongovernmental organizations that have expertise in the program’s three focus areas, Devex has learned. The agency will be issuing a request for proposals next month.
Partnering with athletes and sports associations in the past, USAID has voiced that sports is a “great way to engage different audiences” in development.
MLB has also participated in youth programs before, and this is “an interesting take on development,” Manuel Orozco, senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, told Devex.
There has been much criticism of how the baseball industry takes advantage of talents in the Caribbean and Central America and leaves little in exchange, he noted. The Dominican Republic serves as the primary source of talent from the region to MLB, and USAID said the partnership is taking place there due to the huge fanfare over the league; it might explore expanding to other countries in the future.
The Caribbean nation’s education system lags behind many of its regional counterparts, with oversized classrooms, high dropout and failure rate, and insufficient facilities and teacher training.
Domestic violence is the fourth leading cause of death among the country’s female population. Amnesty International has called attention to the alarming prevalence of the crime, and the scant resources allocated to fight it.
USAID Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein said the partnership will help the organization reach at-risk youth and encourage higher graduation rates, help enable youth to attend school, and help parents provide a healthy home environment.
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