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Foundation receives elite honor

After a winning season on the football field, the Jacksonville Jaguars are being honored for their equally impressive work off the field. Today, the Sports Philanthropy Project and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation jointly announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation will receive the 2006 Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award.

The Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award is presented annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Sports Philanthropy Project to a sports team or athlete foundation whose work is devoted to improving the lives of others. The Jaguars Foundation is being honored for developing innovative community programs, which have received national recognition and have been widely replicated, and for their support of organizations and initiatives throughout the Jacksonville community focused on empowering young people. Between 1995 and 2005, the Jaguars Foundation awarded more than $9 million in cash grants and gave in-kind grants exceeding $430,000 annually in game tickets earned by youth and adults through local nonprofit organizations—a level of giving that places the Jaguars among the top tier of professional sports teams. The award also recognizes the Jaguars Foundation for their leadership in assisting other professional sports teams in developing their own philanthropic initiatives.

"The model of philanthropy that the Jacksonville Jaguars have created through their foundation uniquely demonstrates the power of professional sports teams and athletes to make a tangible, meaningful difference in their communities," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation stands out as a shining example of how professional sports teams can use their position in the community to improve the lives of people in need, especially the most vulnerable."

The Jaguars Foundation's programs include Honor Rows®, a ticket incentive program through which low-income youth earn a seat to a Jaguars home game by setting and attaining educational, personal improvement and volunteer service goals, which has been replicated by a number professional sports teams; The Official Playbooks®, which encourages reading and the use of public libraries; and Straight Talk™, a ground-breaking partnership with all local television media that produces and airs an annual prime time forum on the prevention of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. The Straight Talk program was honored by the Council on Foundations with the 2005 Wilmer Shields Rich Bronze Award for Excellence in Communications.

The Jaguars team and foundation also have been recognized for their leadership in youth tobacco prevention initiatives, which included leading the NFL to a league-wide ban on tobacco advertising in Game Day publications.

"We could not be more pleased to have received the Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award," said Delores Barr Weaver, co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chair/CEO of the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation. "Receiving an award of this caliber is an important affirmation and incentive for us to continue our work to improve the lives of those most in need in our community here in Jacksonville. The spotlight that this award casts on our efforts will require and enable us to do even more, and for that we are grateful as well."

The Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award embodies the values of its namesake. Steve Patterson was a well-known center on three national championship basketball teams at UCLA, and later played in the NBA and coached at Arizona State University. Following his athletic career, Steve founded Patterson Sports Ventures, linking players, teams and sports foundations with important social causes. Tragically, Steve Patterson was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2004 and passed away a month later at the age of 56.

"I can think of no more fitting legacy to Steve's work and vision than this award," said Greg Johnson, executive director of the Sports Philanthropy Project. "Steve dedicated himself to harnessing the power of professional sports to improve the lives of others, and he'd have been proud of the Jaguars Foundation for their work. If, by recognizing the outstanding efforts of one team, we can encourage Steve's vision to thrive, then the award honors not only his legacy, but will be an important tool in advancing the notion of strategic sports philanthropy, which was important to Steve."

The Steve Patterson Sports Philanthropy Award will be officially presented to the Jaguars Foundation in Jacksonville at their Monday Night Football game on September 18, 2006, against the Super Bowl XL Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The presentation will take place on-field during a pre-game ceremony.

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