NEWS: Johnny Ritchey Scholarship

The San Diego Padres and the Masons of California are partnering with Reality Changers to honor Johnny Ritchey, the “Jackie Robinson of the West Coast,” and provide 10 scholarships to Reality Changers college students. See below for the official press release from the San Diego Padres. CBS 8 and the San Diego Union-Tribune also covered this exciting announcement.

Padres to partner with Masons of California to expand Johnny Ritchey scholarship program
January 5th, 2023

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Padres, in partnership with the Masons of California, today announced the expansion of the Johnny Ritchey Scholarship Program on what would have been Ritchey’s 100th birthday. The program allows deserving, and often underserved, high school seniors in San Diego County to have a better chance at attending college. 

In the spirit of Ritchey and his role as the “Jackie Robinson of the West Coast,” the two organizations, along with Reality Changers of San Diego, have teamed up to expand the program to up to ten (10) $10,000 scholarships ($2,500 annually over four years) designed for students that have encountered and, more importantly, have overcome significant personal adversities in his/her life and have used these challenges to strengthen themselves in their pursuit of higher education.  

“The Padres and the Padres Foundation are excited to celebrate Johnny Ritchey and the Padres ‘barrier-breaking’ legacy in such an impactful way,” said Tom Seidler, Padres Sr. Vice President of Community & Military Affairs. “We are proud to play an important role in helping first-generation students, through the Johnny Ritchey Scholarship, realize their dream of a college education.  We thank Reality Changers and the Masons of California for coming together as part of this creative partnership to help local students.”

“Honoring the achievements of Johnny Ritchey by rewarding young people who have demonstrated grit, determination and courage is what this scholarship is all about,” said Doug Ismail, President of the California Masonic Foundation.  “We are thrilled to partner with two great teams – the Padres and Reality Changers to make this happen for our community.” Through its charitable foundation, Masons of California has a long-standing commitment to public education with a focus on literacy, scholarships, and other programs, such as these, that strengthen communities in California.

“Thank you to the Padres and the Masons for believing in the work we do at Reality Changers,” said Tamara Craver, President & CEO of Reality Changers. “We are honored to have been selected to identify first generation students that will follow in the footsteps of the great Johnny Ritchey by overcoming barriers for equal access to higher educations.”

Ritchey became “the Jackie Robinson of the West Coast” by breaking the Pacific Coast League’s color barrier in 1948 while playing for the San Diego Padres. His debut came just one year after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ritchey played for the Padres as a catcher in 1948 and 1949.

Reality Changers of San Diego will nominate pre-screened students affiliated with their organization to apply. Applications will be collected exclusively online until Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at 4pm PST. After reviewing all applications, the selection committee will invite finalists to participate in an interview with representatives of the Padres Foundation and local members of the Masons of California. All chosen recipients will attend an on-field pregame ceremony at Petco Park on April 17 announcing their selection.

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