Buckner International President and CEO Albert Reyes told a crowd of more than 300 attending the inauguration of the new Texas Rangers Baseball Academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic today that the team’s commitment to “developing men is as important as developing baseball players.”
Reyes joined Rangers owners Ray Davis and Neil Liebman, along with Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic to officially open the new academy. The Rangers are collaborating with Buckner Dominicana to provide character development services to players at the academy signed by the ball club. Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels and Manger Chris Woodward also participated in the ceremonies.
“This collaboration helps these young men develop more than their baseball skills,” Reyes said, during the grand opening celebration. “The Rangers and their ownership are to be commended for their commitment.”
The collaboration, referred to as the Buckner Family Hope Center Satellite at the Academy, marks the first time a Major League Baseball team will involve a nonprofit in order to serve its student-athletes’ social and educational needs in a holistic manner.
The joint goal of the collaboration is to provide community-based social service ministries at the Rangers Academy giving life-skills programming, individual and group counseling, and socio-educational activities, and equipping student-athletes with the necessary tools to be successful in life regardless whether they continue on to play professional baseball.
A Buckner Life Coach (trained social worker) currently works at the Rangers Academy, where he counsels and guides the Rangers staff to effectively provide and integrate the social development program and its ancillary educational and MLB related program to best enhance the student athlete experience.
Additional aspects of the collaboration include integrating the CENLA English, CENAPEC and academic programs into the programming provided by Buckner in order to enhance the abilities of the student athletes in areas of English speaking, math, finance and critical thinking. The Buckner Life Coach is also integrating MLB’s Life Skills Training into his work.
“While we are rooting for all the student-athletes at the Rangers Academy to make it to the Majors, our goal with this collaboration in the Dominican Republic is to prepare the players for an alternative plan outside of baseball where they are able to succeed in life after the academy,” Reyes said. “It’s a great step towards investing back into the Dominican Republic, where more than 700 MLB players come from.”
The Texas Rangers and Buckner International have an extensive history serving others. “Buckner was founded in Dallas 140-years ago, and as the area’s oldest nonprofit, our various collaborations with the Texas Rangers, the Rangers Foundation, and its academies are a perfect fit to better care for the surrounding communities,” Reyes said.
In 2018, Buckner International and the Texas Rangers opened the Buckner Family Hope Center at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex presented by TOYOTA, located in West Dallas.
The Buckner Family Hope Center at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy supports the children who attend the Academy, as well as their parents and siblings. Modeled after the Buckner Family Hope Centers found across Texas and internationally, the Family Hope Center is a child-centered, family-focused place where families go to find hope, support and empowerment in their community to reach their fullest potential. Its programs equip families through education, financial empowerment, child and youth development and spiritual development, as well as elevate families through family coaching, counseling and spiritual enrichment.
Buckner Dominicana has ministered to children and families in the Dominican Republic for nearly a decade through Buckner Family Hope Centers located in Villa Esfuerzo (Almirante) and Eduardo Brito.
In 2018, Buckner staff and volunteers impacted the lives of 13,752 people in the Dominican Republic by providing free programs like vocational training, counseling, financial empowerment, health services and more.