The San Francisco Giants know firsthand how sport can bring a community together. And this year, the Giants’ collaboration with the Giants Community Fund—the team’s nonprofit that runs the much-anticipated Junior Giants program every year—helped that community grow in an extraordinary way. 

Every summer, the Giants Community Fund supports Junior Giants leagues in 90 locations across three states, using baseball and softball as a catalyst for education, health, and bullying prevention among underserved youth and their families. When it became clear that the season couldn’t take place in person as usual, the Fund—and the Giants—channeled 100% of their energy into the launch of the Junior Giants at Home virtual program.

“The Junior Giants at Home program is, without a doubt, one of our organization’s top achievements this year,” says Bill Schlough, Senior Vice President and CIO of the San Francisco Giants. “It was an innovative solution to a challenging situation, made simpler by Pure technology.”

A long-time Pure Storage® customer, the Fund relies heavily on its donor database, which includes donor contact information and historical donation amounts for individuals, businesses, and foundations to help cultivate relationships and maximize revenue. The data from millions of records runs on Pure Storage FlashArray™—the backbone of the Fund’s efforts.  

“Traditionally, we’ve relied heavily on in-person events to cultivate relationships with donors, but we moved all of our fundraising efforts online,” says Carolyn Della Maggiore, Development Director for the Giants Community Fund. “With solid donor data, we were able to connect and engage with both loyal and new donors in a very targeted way.”  

And donors stepped up to the plate. Thanks to their generous support, the Junior Giants at Home program thrived, expanding to include participants from across the country—and the world.  

Forming a Giant Global Community  

The program fostered a sense of unity that transcended borders with kids taking part from across the country and around the world. “Sports are a wonderful way to build human compassion and understanding, especially in uncertain times,” says Sue Petersen, Executive Director of the Giants Community Fund. “It feels great to know that we had a part in helping kids build relationships with others in a fun, educational, and consistent setting.”

The Junior Giants at Home program adapted its in-person, eight-week session to four sessions that spanned 16 weeks across 80 virtual leagues, reaching more than 12,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 18. 

“Considering that participation in most sports dropped to zero, this was one of the few ways that kids could connect with old and new friends alike,” says Schlough. “For many of our participants, Junior Giants was a grounding point during a period of great stress and instability.” 

Indeed, 90 Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassadors who were originally trained to provide on-site coaching assistance became coaches themselves, providing guidance on everything from baseball drills and physical fitness to bullying prevention and tips for getting into college. They ran live, at-home virtual practices where they worked out with participants, showed them how to make nutritious snacks, and talked about the four bases of character development—leadership, confidence, teamwork, and integrity. 

Even the Giants’ coaching staff got in on the action, taking the time to record tips and drills on hitting, catching, and throwing. And this year marked the first time the Junior Giants offered a league specifically for Spanish-speaking families.  

An On-Demand Digital Dugout

Since its founding, the Giants Community Fund has raised more than $34 million from individuals, businesses, and foundations in support of community efforts—and the team hopes the success of the Junior Giants at Home program will only broaden the donor base so they can expand their programming even further next year. 

In the meantime, the Fund has curated content from the Junior Giants at Home season to offer Junior Giants On Demand for young baseball fans to access year-round. As local communities continue to open up in the coming months, the Community Fund is making plans to offer hybrid programming in 2021.  For some communities, virtual programming will remain an effective and appropriate choice, while in many regions, the traditional in-person program will return with enhanced health procedures in place.

“We don’t know exactly what next season will look like,” says Della Maggiore, “But with this year’s playbook and our partnership with Pure, we’re confident we have what it takes to adjust as needed, especially during these ever-changing times.”  

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