The Jaguars Foundation Board announced the awarding of $474,850 in grants in its first grant cycle of 2007 to eighteen local nonprofit organizations serving economically and socially disadvantaged children and families in Northeast Florida. Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars Foundation Chair and CEO, the Foundation's grand total in grant giving since 1995 is more than $10.3 million in the Jacksonville area, which includes Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties.
"Our dream of the Jaguars Foundation began even before Jacksonville was awarded the 30th NFL franchise in 1993, and we were already awarding grants before the team played its first game in 1995," Weaver remarked. "I am proud of the Jaguars Partners for making a million-dollar commitment annually to support the Foundation's grant making and other important programs for youth and their families." Unlike most sports teams, the Jaguars Foundation does not solicit contributions nor hold fundraising events.
According to the Foundation's Executive Director, Peter Racine, this year's grants included some promising new initiatives as well as many agencies with long-term track records of proven quality services for children, such as The Bridge of Northeast Florida, Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, Jacksonville Children's Chorus, and Communities in Schools in Jacksonville, Nassau County and St. John's County.
New grants included a partnership of the Jaguars Foundation with other funders to bring national non-profit Student Conservation Association's youth program to Jacksonville. Eight low-income youth were engaged in a paid summer internship providing conservation and preservation services in the local park system.
Another grant was awarded to the Jacksonville Youth Sanctuary to expand independent living services for youth transitioning out of foster care. The Jaguars Foundation funded a pilot program last year to help them launch their first transition home. The 2007 grant will help open up to two additional homes. Racine stated, "Quality programs such as the ones we are funding give low-income children and teens a chance to capitalize on opportunities for success in the future that we all want our children to have."
Through the Straight Talk™ Program, the Jaguars Foundation continued to fund programs that work to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI's) among teens, through comprehensive sexual health education and promoting parent-teen communication. An independent evaluation of these programs conducted by the Institute for Health, Policy and Evaluation Research of the Duval County Health Department (report released in May 2007) indicated that these programs are achieving a high rate of success in providing teens with a better knowledge of sexual and reproductive health; improving communication with parents and other responsible adults; and building skills teens need to make positive choices and prevent/decrease risky behavior that could lead to pregnancy or STI's.
The Jaguars Foundation made the following grant awards in the first cycle for 2007:
• Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, $25,000. After-school and summer programs at the Woodland Acres Boy and Girls Club.
• The Bridge of Northeast Florida, $50,000. The Bridge Teen Connection program in Springfield.
• Communities in Schools of Jacksonville, $37,000. Student drop-out prevention and literacy program at elementary schools in the Duval County Public Schools.
• Communities in Schools of Nassau County Inc, $30,000. Multi-site student drop-out prevention program at Nassau County Public Schools.
• Communities in School of St. Johns County Inc, $25,000. Youth/family academic and arts enrichment program in Hastings, Florida.
• Children's Enrichment Workshops, $5,000. Elementary children after-school enrichment program.
• Clara White Mission Inc, $20,000. Youth after-school/summer programs in Brentwood.
• Episcopal Children's Services, $2,280. Continuation grant for the Male Involvement Initiative in Head Start and Early Head Start centers in Baker, Clay and Nassau counties.
• Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, $25,000. Girl Scout programs at low-income housing sites in Duval County.
• Habitat for Humanity of Jax Beaches, $25,000. After-school academic, tutoring and computer skills program for youth at the Jordan and Donner centers in Atlantic Beach.
• The Jacksonville Children's Chorus Inc, $30,000. Scholarship fund for chorus singers from low-income families.
• Jacksonville Youth Sanctuary, $20,000. Continuation of independent living pilot program for foster care graduates.
• JASMYN Inc, $20,000. Safety net program for at-risk youth, including health education, case management and mentoring.
• National Council of Negro Women's Child Watch Partnership of Jacksonville, $25,000. Community based after-school and summer tutoring enrichment program for girls in northwest Jacksonville.
• Student Conservation Association, $10,000. Internship program for low-income high school youth from The Bridge, Boys and Girls Clubs, daniel, Inc, and other agencies.
The Board awarded the following Straight Talk™ grants for programs working to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teens:
• The Bridge of Northeast Florida: $40,000; Focus on Kids I and II; Peer Educators; Cultural Connections; Responsible Manhood.
• Girls Inc. of Jacksonville: $30,000; Growing Together, Will Power/Won't Power, Taking Care of Business.
• PACE Center for Girls Jacksonville: $25,000; Time To Be A Girl.
• Planned Parenthood of Northeast Florida: $30,000; FACES (Facts for Adolescents about Choices, Education and Sexuality) of NE FL Teen Advocates and Teen Theater.
The Jaguars Foundation focuses on strategic grant making, networking, and volunteer support to serve economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families of Jacksonville. Other Foundation programs include Honor Rows®, in partnership with Reebok, which uses seats at Jaguars home games to reward economically and socially disadvantaged youth for reaching pre-determined academic, behavioral, and public service goals; Straight Talk™, in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and local media, to help reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases; The Official Playbooks®, in partnership with Reebok and Pepsi, to encourage reading and use of local public libraries; What Moves U, co-sponsored by Wolfson Children's Hospital, in partnership with the NFL, American Heart Association and Duval County Public Schools, to prevent youth obesity, promote physical activity and good nutrition; and the Jaguars Don't Smoke campaign to reduce tobacco use among youth.
For information on the Grants Program guidelines and application, please visit the Jaguars Foundation website at www.jaguars.com/foundation/grantmaking.asp