It Never Rains on Harlem RBI

By Alex Cohen

Kirk McKeown is the Director of Canvas Fundamental Research Group and a Managing Director at Point72 Asset Management. One of the Firm’s most generous and consistent givers, Kirk serves on the Board of Directors of Harlem RBI and Person-to-Person.  Kirk’s story below kicks off our new blog series that takes a deeper look at why people decide to give their time, talent and treasure to charitable causes, and what inspires them to continue their commitments to give. He tells why he and his wife Rebecca have been committed to Harlem RBI since 2008, and how the children and teens it serves inspire them to keep giving back…

My wife and I started coaching at Harlem RBI one summer, around seven years ago. We’d walk up to tee ball every Saturday, crossing from the Upper East Side into East Harlem, eager for our team to show up and play. We really enjoyed the time with the kids from Harlem – we talked about teamwork and hustle with them and tried to teach the basics of baseball. It was time well spent – we were getting involved in a good cause, something local, where we could give back. That summer started a long relationship with Harlem RBI – both my wife and I are involved in the organization and give a lot of energy to the kids of East Harlem.

There’s an old saying I’ve grown to respect over the years: “You have to give it away to keep it.” I ascribe to that fully. My wife and I feel we’ve been lucky in life. Personally, I went through a period of time in life where I didn’t fully appreciate all of the opportunities I had been presented and almost missed out on a lot of life. I figured it out though, due in large part to people helping me stay on the right path. We believe in giving a hand to those who need it. We give because we want to help. And we try to provide an example for our kids – that they may see and know that we all have a responsibility to help people who were born into different circumstances, and who may not wake up to the same opportunities that we have. I’ve been lucky enough to work for people and organizations that have made philanthropy a core part of their businesses. I try to follow that example and give time and money to organizations that will allocate it effectively and make people’s lives better.

Last week, I went to see Harlem RBI celebrate the graduation of its seniors. It was an incredible evening. It was literally pouring rain all day, but the Harlem RBI administration wouldn’t move the event from the Field of Dreams, the baseball field on 101st Street that the organization had built on top of a vacant lot. It turns out that, “It never rains on Harlem RBI.” The rain stopped at 5:15 pm for a 6:00 pm ceremony. The sun came out, the skies cleared, and people came together on a baseball diamond. It was beautiful. We saw the RBI seniors graduate, to step into the next stage of their lives as virtually 100% of the graduating class goes on to college. It was truly remarkable, and gratifying, to see these kids achieve; years before, they were just like the little guys and girls we were coaching in tee ball. The outcomes really justify the time spent, the dollars given, and the commitment. We give because we want to be a part of that miracle. We give because: it never rains on Harlem RBI.