Bank Street School for Children '98
I see the inequities that are here, and I wanted to help protect our guys by giving them the opportunity to change their life trajectory by becoming student-athletes, not just athletes.
Jay Quinn founded The Baseball Island Foundation in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. His mission is to help as many kids as possible live their dreams of becoming professional baseball players without neglecting education, providing tools, structure, and guidance to Dominican youth and their families. The goal is lifelong success, regardless of how far they make it in the game of baseball.
The Baseball Island Foundation is an international collaboration that provides meals, health care, pro-style athletic training, and more education to local youth with the help of accomplished experts. Its programming connects education to baseball and teaches young players the value of building an inclusive and responsive community like he had as a student at the School for Children. The foundation has been an immediate success. In its first year, two students received college scholarships in the US and another signed a Major League Baseball contract. In the middle of its second year, one boy, Angel Luis Medina, signed with the Texas Rangers, and nine more student-athletes have earned US scholarships.
Jay said, “When I was at Bank Street School for Children, I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. That dream has translated into a baseball-oriented career, coaching at Columbia University, working for Major League Baseball, and, in 2021, founding a non-profit organization that serves children and adolescents in the Dominican Republic. Nothing like this has ever existed in the Dominican Republic before, and people see how much of an impact the program is having. ”
Because the majority of the people the foundation works with do not have access to the internet or cell phones, the program brings them together in person.
“We require that our student-athletes stay in school and take supplemental classes as ‘payment’ for our free pro-level training tools, systems, and coaching,” Jay said.
Jay chose this path because he saw a dire need for change in his new hometown of Las Terrenas. During his college years, he played Division I baseball at George Washington University in Washington, DC. After college, he coached at Columbia University and worked for Major League Baseball. For the last 12 years, Jay has been traveling around the world coaching, consulting, and running camps, clinics, and community service efforts. The idea for the Baseball Island Foundation started to take shape as a way to help young players and their families avoid the pitfalls of the unregulated and highly competitive baseball player development in the Dominican Republic.
“The ugly signing-bonus battle has been a major problem for decades,” Jay said. “In the US and Canada, players are protected and can’t be drafted by MLB teams until they’ve received at least a GED or they’ve finished their junior year of college. In the Dominican Republic, there are no built-in protections, and local coaches commonly recruit kids as young as 11 years old, who, in many cases, discontinue school. These kids sign contracts that place them in debt to their handlers. Here in the DR, at 16 years old, a player becomes an international free agent, and these young kids and their families are often taken advantage of, but through community, change can happen.”
The Baseball Island Foundation requires players to stay in school and provides the missing educational pieces for Dominican youth, along with opportunities for hands-on and group learning.
“I didn’t grow up in the DR, but had the same dream and drive that our kids here have. I see the inequities that are here, and I wanted to help protect our guys by giving them the opportunity to change their life trajectory by becoming student-athletes, not just athletes. Through grants and donations, our organization provides free support and assistance to young players. We’re still working toward sustainable support, but we’re extremely grateful to all who have made it possible for us to make an immediate impact for local families who are stuck in a system that’s been broken for 30 years,” Jay said.
Jay is the son of a former School for Children teacher, Roberta Berman, GSE ’96, who taught art and shop for over 20 years. He followed in his mother’s footsteps, studying early childhood development at Bank Street Graduate School of Education, where he completed his student teaching requirement in a 9/10s classroom across the hall from her at the School for Children.
“The School for Children was by far the best academic experience of my life. We learned hands on in smaller classes, and our teachers really focused on and worked with each student. It was never simply about how we did on a few tests. It was about how we worked individually and with others, this idea of a community coming together to learn from each other, to find out-of-the-box solutions,” Jay said.
Jay has stayed connected to the Bank Street community: In 2023, he helped Bank Street’s Alumni Relations Office by serving as a School for Children Class Delegate for the 25-year reunion of his graduating class.