With Major League Baseball season kicking off this spring, we thought it was a perfect time to learn more about their Vice President of Social Responsibility, Melanie LeGrande. In her role, Melanie develops and enhances the initiatives that support the league’s position in the community, collaborates with internal departments and key external stakeholders to integrate social considerations into core decision and planning, and provides oversight for MLB’s community investments, nonprofit/NGO partnerships, large-scale disaster relief and employee volunteer engagement.
Prior to joining Major League Baseball, Melanie was the senior director of corporate responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, responsible for managing strategic community grant-making, social responsibility programs and employee engagement for a portfolio of corporate partners, in addition to serving as project lead on events on corporate citizenship for clients and other stakeholders. Before joining MLB and SVCF, she directed the community relations department and charitable foundation of the Baltimore Ravens (National Football League). In her dual role, she was the liaison between the team and the community, led employee and player engagement programs, a scholarship program and managed field renovations for the charitable foundation.
Keep reading to learn more about MLB’s social impact efforts on bullying, character education, and more. Let’s Take 5 with Melanie!
- What will be the focus of MLB corporate philanthropy this season? Any exciting new partnerships this year? Major League Baseball’s charitable efforts and philanthropic dollars support a variety of focus areas, including the fight against cancer, youth and families, and the military. Our longstanding core partnerships are with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Jackie Robinson Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer. Our 30 Clubs continue to support causes that are most relevant to their local communities, and players often support causes that are personal to them.We’re excited about our partnership with ESPN in the corporate citizenship space, as we have joined their “Shred Hate” bullying prevention program and have launched in-school and out-of-school programming to create a culture of kindness among youth. More than 25,000 kids have participated in Shred Hate programming across five markets this school year alone.
- What’s the most amazing thing people should know about your job? This is a fun question. I think the most amazing thing people should know about my job is that I interact with every department throughout Baseball. On any given day, I have meetings with legal to iron out charitable agreements, with sponsorship to talk through cause marketing programs with our corporate partners, with on-field operations to give feedback on a uniform patch, with broadcasting as we share our community programs with RSNs and national broadcasters, and more.
- What do you wish people knew about MLB’s social impact efforts? I think one of our most important programs is the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life character education program. Developed by MLB and Scholastic, Inc., the program is based on the values demonstrated by Jackie Robinson and is a wonderful tool for students to learn about Jackie’s life and legacy and to navigate barriers of their own. For more than 20 years, this program has encouraged kids to share obstacles in their lives and how they’ve demonstrated their ability to overcome using the values exemplified by the Hall of Famer. We get thousands of essays every year from youth in grades 4-9. It’s heartbreaking and also uplifting to learn the stories and to celebrate the resiliency of our youth. Inspirational, for sure, and a program we’ve been proud to support year in and year out.
- Tell us more about the decision for MLB players to honor victims of the shooting in Florida by wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hats at spring training games? How was that effort coordinated and were there any other commitments to the students? The Miami Marlins reached out immediately to our central office with ways to support the Parkland community and it took off from there. Our Clubs and players, including Chicago Cubs All-Star Anthony Rizzo and a few other MSD alumni, were on board and our partner New Era generously produced and donated caps for everyone in the span of a week. It took a joint effort between our Clubs and many departments at our central office – CSR, communications, on-field operations, and our online auctions group – as we encouraged Clubs to put the caps up for auction. Thus far, more than $125K has been raised and proceeds are on their way to the Broward Education Foundation, home of the Official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.
- What are some trends you’re seeing in the CSR world this year? Transparency and accountability. These are not new trends, but they continue to be a greater focus for many as our consumers and stakeholders are using their voices and economic power to put pressure on companies and brands to do the right thing.
Five Fun Facts About Melanie:
Favorite App: Apple Music
Last Book Read: Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
Favorite Place to Unwind: My purple couch
Guilty Pleasure: Murder She Wrote repeats