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Arizona Diamondbacks: A Legacy of Philanthropy

by Bennett Silvyn
Community Voices Featured Sports Bennett Silvyn May 7, 2024

In professional sports, the spotlight often shines brightest on the players and their performances; however, the Arizona Diamondbacks have distinguished themselves through their unwavering commitment to giving back to the community. Embraced by all facets of the organization, from ownership to players, the Diamondbacks have built a legacy of philanthropy that extends far beyond the confines of Chase Field.

In 2023, the Arizona Diamondbacks donated $80 million to Arizona nonprofits. Debbie Castaldo, Senior VP of Corporate & Community Impact, and CEO Derrick Hall have championed a philanthropic culture over 15 years of working for the team.

The Diamondbacks prioritize youth empowerment through initiatives like the D-Backs Youth Jersey Program, which has supplied over 500,000 jerseys and hats to Arizona youth baseball and softball leagues. This program offers a pathway for aspiring athletes from low-income backgrounds to pursue their baseball dreams.

Cactus Youth Little League Opening Day at El Oso Park on February 19th, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Anna Carrington/Arizona Diamondbacks)

Education is a cornerstone of the Diamondbacks’ community engagement, particularly for Castaldo, whose personal connection to education drives her passion for scholarships.

“I grew up with a mom who was a schoolteacher; anything having to do with educational scholarships is really important to me,” said Castaldo. “This year, we’re going to have our second-year D-Backs Avnet Scholars. They are scholars who come from difficult circumstances, most of whom are first-generation scholars, and they will be the second class of scholars. They get a full ride, a four-year scholarship, a laptop, a backpack, and all their shopping for back to school.”

“It is a very emotional and special time.”

Derrick Hall presenting an award to an Avnet STEM Scholar. (Photo by Kelsey Grant/Arizona Diamondbacks)

In addition to supporting education through programs like the D-Backs School Challenge and the D-Backs Science of Baseball, the Diamondbacks utilize funds raised during their postseason run, particularly through the 50/50 raffle.

According to Castaldo, these funds enabled increases in grants for programs such as Chase Your Dreams, boosting them from $100,000 to $150,000, as well as providing an additional $50,000 for the School Grant Program in partnership with the University of Phoenix.

“You can never give enough to teachers, schools, STEM education programs that need it,” said Castaldo. “As long as there’s a need and the applications are rolling in, we will keep funding.”

The Evening on the Diamond fundraiser, a key event for the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, raises millions annually to support vital community projects.

The Diamondbacks host the annual Evening on the Diamond fundraiser at Chase Field on March 23, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jill Weisleder/Arizona Diamondbacks)

Central to the Diamondbacks’ philanthropic philosophy are the Ken Kendrick Grand Slam Awards, which provide substantial grants to local charities. Castaldo notes proudly that the awards have increased from $100,000 to $250,000, distributing over $8 million to support diverse community initiatives.

The D-Backs players are actively engaged in philanthropy, meeting with Castaldo after being drafted to discuss their interest in local charities. This ensures that by the time they reach the majors, players are ready and eager to give back.

“When the fans see the players showing up and giving back, it gives them just a little bit more comfort and motivation to buy that raffle ticket or come out to the Diamondbacks Race Against Cancer,” Castaldo said. “We couldn’t do it without fans, and that’s the part I’m most proud of.

As the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate their remarkable milestone of $80 million in charitable contributions, they stand as a shining example of the transformative power of sports philanthropy. With their unwavering dedication and innovative approach, the Diamondbacks continue to set the standard for giving back in professional sports, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of Arizonans.

RAMMS Opening Day on March 2, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jacob Reiner/Arizona Diamondbacks)

“When the fans got involved and started to fall in love with the D-backs give back, it became this movement of our employees, ownership, players and fans working together,” said Castaldo. “That’s the magic formula that’s made this so powerful and such a milestone that we’ve already given away $85 million.”

“We’re already approaching the $100 million mark, one of the few teams that reach this amount, and we’re the youngest in all of baseball. It’s something to be proud of and celebrated, but we couldn’t do it without our fans.”