AIM Honors The BASE with 2020 Gould Education Award
| September 14, 2020
By: Chris Geehern
A Boston-based urban academy that combines sports, educational opportunities and career development is the recipient of the 2020 John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
The BASE, founded in 2013 by community leader Robert Lewis Jr., has fielded some of the best baseball teams in the country and send a handful of local players to the major leagues. But the organization’s real success is measured by the 200 student-athletes who have gone through the program and then matriculated to college.
The award is particularly poignant this year because Lewis in March fell gravely ill with COVID-19. He is now fully recovered and back to guiding the Roxbury-based organization that serves more than 1,000 youngsters each year.
“We shine a spotlight on the limitless potential of our young people, on and off the field,” Lewis said.
“The BASE has built strong relationships with diverse leaders and institutions committed to changing minds, lives and the status quo, across the public, private and non-profit sectors, higher education, the community and beyond.”
The BASE combines athletic training and competition with education and career resources. The organization, together with its affiliated Boston Astros baseball team launched in 1978, has served more than 8,000 boys and girls on more than 600 teams, competing locally, nationally and internationally, from Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada and Chicago to the Dominican Republic.
The organization has expanded in recent years to Chicago and Indianapolis; and Pittsburgh has been a host site for The BASE Urban Classic in 2018 and 2019.
“AIM is proud to present the John Gould Award to an organization dedicated to helping urban young people navigate the path of educational and economic success,” said John Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.
“Everyone in this town knows what a great job Robert Lewis Jr. has done with The BASE. It’s an enterprise that is nominally about sports but really about our collective responsibility make everyone part of Massachusetts’ economic success.”
The BASE will accept the Gould Award as part of AIM’s Virtual Annual Meeting on October 2 at 11 am.
The BASE includes a baseball/softball/basketball academy, an academic and career institute, a training academy and a program called BASE HOOPZ for children in grades 3-12.
The academic and career institute provides tutoring support; college and career visits, including an annual trip to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); college application and financial aid guidance; skills workshops (e.g., leadership, STEM); onsite dual enrollment college classes; connections to scholarships, internships and jobs.
The BASE also works with the Urban College of Boston to offer on-site college courses that provide students an opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree at little or no cost.
“At the end of the day, if our kids have changed and our community hasn’t, we haven’t done anything. If we haven’t created a culture where going to college is the new norm, we haven’t done anything. The BASE is not about having fun. We are about practice, preparation, and performance. We love our kids, but we expect them to work hard to earn their spot,” Lewis said.
“I refuse to let some theorist say we’re ‘at-risk,’ ‘underserved,’ ‘disadvantaged’ or anything else like that. That is unacceptable. Who has the right to say my people are ‘less than’? We flip it. When you walk in this door, everything is about being asset driven. The only thing these kids are at-risk for is being successful. If you believe in them, love them and give them the resources.”
The Gould Award was established in 1998 to recognize the contributions of individuals, employers, and institutions to the quality of public education and to the advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the Commonwealth.
In 2000, the award was named after the late John Gould, upon his retirement as President and CEO of AIM, to recognize his work to improve the quality of public education and workforce training in Massachusetts.
Past recipients of the Gould Award include the late Jack Rennie, Chairman and Founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education; Middlesex Community College; Gordon Lankton, President and CEO (retired), NYPRO Inc.; William Edgerly, Chairman Emeritus, State Street Corporation; Northeastern University; The Davis Family Foundation; Intel Massachusetts; EMC Corporation; IBM; David Driscoll Commissioner (Retired) Massachusetts Department of Education; State Street Corporation and Year UP Boston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership; Brockton High School; the Manufacturing Advancement Center – MACWIC Program; Christo Rey Boston High School; CVS and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership and SnapChef.