Retired Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife Sarah founded the Wood Family Foundation (WFF) in 2011 with the vision of improving the lives of Chicago children. In its early years, WFF sponsored one-time initiatives like coat drives, holiday gift programs, and baseball clinics, and funded external projects such as a playroom at Lurie Children’s Hospital and a four-year college scholarship.
As the team became more deeply aware of the systemic challenges facing the families it served, it was clear we needed to move toward more sustained, direct involvement. After piloting a few community-based program iterations, our Board of Directors voted to develop an after-school mentoring model in 2014 – called Pitch In – at Lawndale Community Academy (LCA) in the North Lawndale neighborhood, and served 4th graders in our first year there. Since 2014, we have extended Pitch In to a new grade level at LCA every year, and now support 4th-8th graders. Additionally, in Fall 2018 we launched our second Pitch In site at Richard Yates Elementary School in Humboldt Park, and in Fall 2019, we launched our 3rd and 4th Pitch In Sites at Bernhard Moos Elementary in Humboldt Park and Charles Sumner Math and Science Community Academy in North Lawndale.
Looking ahead, we are excited to bring the Pitch In model to the Chicago neighborhoods of Austin, Englewood, and Roseland.