As the Washington Nationals prepare to take the field with their season on the line in Game 6 of the World Series, the team’s youth program has scored a major gift from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
The firm has pledged $225,000 over the next five years to the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy as a part of the firm’s continued sponsorship of the nonprofit.
Through after school and summer programming, the Academy aims to use baseball and softball to support academic success, character development and health among the youth from Washington’s under-serviced communities.
Akin Gump’s relationship with the Washington Nationals’ philanthropic efforts began years ago, before the creation of the academy in 2014.
One of the firm’s partners knew Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, a principal owner of the Washington Nationals and chair of its charitable arm, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, according to Steven Schulman, a partner and head of Akin Gump’s pro bono practice.
Tanenbaum came to the office with architectural drawings of the Academy before it even had staff, Schulman recalled. Akin Gump began working with the foundation and once the Academy was established the firm took an immediate interest in it, even attending the groundbreaking of its facility in Ward 7’s Fort Dupont Park.
“I remember being there when it was just a muddy field,” Schulman said.
The new commitment by Akin Gump will help fuel the Academy’s on the ground efforts, its CEO Tal Alter said in a statement.
Over the past five years, lawyers at Akin Gump provided more than 700 pro bono hours to the Academy and the Dream Foundation.
In addition to legal work, the firm also created the Legal Mushball Classic, an annual charity softball game for Washington law and legal services firms that has raised $715,000 over the last five years for the Academy.
The firm’s support for Academy is a part of its broader commitment to the community and is a partnership that can continue to grow, Schulman said. Eventually, he said, the firm would like to make sure the children in the Academy have access to adequate legal representation.
As for the World Series , Schulman said if you told him on Memorial Day that the Nationals would make it to Game 6 of the series, he would’ve been thrilled. And as of the afternoon before the big game, he said he still has faith in the team’s resilience, despite the deficit they face against the Houston Astros.