Sunday, April 4, 2004

Look Who's Talking

Charley Frank, executive director, Cincinnati Reds Community Fund

Charley Frank: "I'm very impressed with where we're at."

Charley Frank is a true believer. The new executive director of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund is a Cincinnati native, and his grandfather was a season-ticket holder back in the 1930s. Frank's plans for the 2-year-old Community Fund include a fund-raising gala to mark the opening of the team's Hall of Fame in September and a Baseball 101 program for women starting in May. Its biggest program is the Reds Rookie Success League, started last year with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

What are the new plans for the Reds Community Fund in 2004?

In the Rookie Success League this year should be hopefully about 350 kids who participate. This is a noncompetitive, co-ed, character-building program. Last year, Reggie Taylor was involved, Scott Sullivan was involved, Tom Hume was involved. We're hoping as we grow to gradually get players to maybe even adopt teams and to take an active role.

Does the money in the fund come from the Reds, or does the fund accept contributions?

Sure, we're a public 501(c)3, and we do accept individual gifts, and they do come in all shapes and sizes. We've been left in individuals' wills in certain cases or in lieu of flowers to have gifts sent to the community fund. We're trying to ramp up our corporate approach this year.

How much money is managed by the Fund?

We're in six figures, we're in the low six figures. For having only been established for two-plus years, I'm very impressed with where we're at. Because of the involvement with Bats Incredible last fall, we had a $50,000-plus association with that event.

What is your long-term mission for the Community Fund?

In a sense, it's too early to say. I look at what Cardinals Care is able to accomplish in St. Louis or what the Cleveland Indians do through their nonprofit program. They're putting hundreds of thousands of dollars annually back into youth activities. I don't know that we necessarily aspire to become an organization that sprinkles money to various charities, just because there are so many worthwhile organizations that do that so well. I think our goal is to become slightly more narrow in focus, but I'd like to create enough ongoing, cyclical, manageable programs.

Any starting pitchers available?

(Laughs) We'll see. We'll see, once we get into the dog days.

Cliff Peale

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