Pitch In Program

Our History

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-9th graders. Additionally, in Fall 2018 we launched our second Pitch In site at Richard Yates Elementary School in Humboldt Park where we support 4th-7th graders. 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, where we currently serve 4th-6th graders.

Looking ahead, we are excited to bring the Pitch In model to the Chicago neighborhoods of Austin, Englewood, and Roseland.

Our Model

The Pitch In after-school program fosters high-quality mentoring relationships between supportive adults and our students and provides exposure to a social-emotional learning curriculum and important enrichment experiences that help ensure that students develop the mindsets, skills, and agency necessary to scale the critical transition between middle and high school successfully.

The Pitch In model leverages a strong social-emotional curriculum, a group mentoring model, exposure to unique enrichment experiences, monthly school-based Family Dinners, and 8th grade peer mentorship so that our students build the academic and leadership skills that drive success in high school and beyond. Weekly, classes of 15-20 students convene with their Pitch In families – including full-time team members and adult mentors – to build leadership skills, improve grades, build self-advocacy, and prepare for the transition to high school.
Learn more about our Pitch In Mentors.





By choosing to Pitch In, you will help 4th-8th grade middle school students reach their full potential. Donations will provide students with school and arts supplies, healthy after school snacks, educational workbooks, monthly family dinners, and other various materials needed for students to succeed. Gifts of any amount will help us support our students and families.  Together We Win.