When the Jaguars were named the 30th NFL franchise in 1993, the Weavers' vision was to give back to the community in a substantial manner. Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars Foundation chair and CEO, the Foundation awarded $206,314 in grants to nine local youth-serving agencies in its second grant cycle of 2005. The total amount awarded in 2005 was $1,048,737, marking the fifth year in a row the Foundation has awarded more than one million dollars in grants.
The grand total since 1995 is more than $9 million in the Jacksonville area (Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties). The Jaguars Foundation focuses on support of programs serving economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families in Jacksonville. "Our dream of the Jaguars Foundation began even before Jacksonville was awarded the 30th NFL franchise in 1993," Weaver exclaimed. "I am proud of the Jaguars and the Jaguars Partners for making the annual million dollar commitment to support these important programs for youth and their families."
The Foundation awarded the following grants in the second cycle for 2005:
· Baptist Health Foundation – $30,000 for Art With a Heart's Artist-in-Residence position to provide art therapy programming to children at Wolfson Children's Hospital.
· The Family Nurturing Center of Florida – $25,000 for therapeutic counseling program to help reunite children in foster care with their parents and prevent further child abuse or neglect.
· First Coast Family Center – $36,000 for the Mentoring Program for training and supervising adult mentors of children at-risk for child abuse and neglect.
· The 1st Tee of St. Johns County – $10,000 to expand the number of low-income, minority and female participants in the after-school life-skills and golf program.
· Heart for Children – $20,000 for after-school/summer programs.
· Jewish Family & Community Services – $15,314 for therapeutic personal growth groups for boys and girls in the foster-care dependency system.
· Metro Kids Konnection – $20,000 for after-school/summer program at Cleveland Arms housing complex.
· Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, Inc. – $25,000 for continued support of a resource center for nonprofit organizations in northeast Florida.
· United Congregations for Communities and Youth – $25,000 for the Virtues Positive Youth Development after-school and summer program.
In addition to cash grants, non-cash awards included approximately 11,800 Jaguars home-game tickets during the 2005 football season, with an in-kind value exceeding $420,000. The primary program is Honor Rows®, in partnership with REEBOK and Alltel, whereby economically and socially disadvantaged youth between the ages of 9 and 17 can earn a seat to home games. Participating youth set and achieve ambitious but realistic personal goals, such as academic improvement, nutrition/physical fitness and community service. 4,357 tickets, the largest amount in Honor Rows history, were awarded to youth and their chaperones. Other Foundation-sponsored charitable seating programs included Sailors Aweigh for Navy families with a parent on deployment; inner-city youth football associations; HabiJax volunteers; and families at Ronald McDonald House.
In September 2005, in partnership with PEPSI, the Foundation published the 2005-06 edition of The Jaguars Official Playbooks®. This colorful booklet featuring first-round draft pick #18 Wide Receiver Matt Jones on the cover serves to promote reading. It highlights books for all ages recommended by the team's owners, players, coaches, cheerleaders and mascot JAXSON de Ville. Playbooks is available at public libraries in Jacksonville and Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties and can also be accessed on-line at jaguars.com.
During the season, the Foundation's Straight Talk™ program, under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver and in partnership with the Weaver Family Foundation, continued its grants to programs working to reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Over one million dollars in Straight Talk grants have been made since 1999. In addition, from the Foundation's May television show, "Teens & Sex…The Real Truth 2005," the winning PSA by Fleming Island High School students was shown on the Stadium's video screens during a Jaguars home game. The next Straight Talk show, in partnership with all local television stations and other media, is scheduled to air on Thursday, May 25 through Thursday, June 1, 2006. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), the official health plan and community relations partner of the Jaguars, is the Foundation's Straight Talk partner.
Through the Weaver Family Foundation, Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver have supported many local agencies and initiatives. Since 1995 they have made contributions to Jacksonville organizations in excess of $16 million. In February 2005, the Weaver's made a second $1 million commitment to United Way which will be paid out over four years beginning this year. In addition, in the aftermath of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the Weavers matched the NFL's donation of $1 million with a donation of $1 million from the Weaver Family Foundation to United Way for hurricane relief, which includes support for citizens from the hurricane-struck areas who have come to the First Coast.
Delores Barr Weaver is the Chair of the HabiJax Golf Tournament and Founder of Friends of HabiJax. HabiJax, Jacksonville's affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, has built more houses than any Habitat affiliate across the country. Since its inception in 1996 through 2005, the golf tournament has sponsored 55 houses, representing a cash contribution to HabiJax in excess of $1.8 million. Friends of HabiJax, founded in 2001, is a partnership of local businesses including the Jaguars and the Weavers' two other companies, Liz Claiborne Shoes and Shoe Carnival. Utilizing the Florida Sales Tax Refund Program, Friends has contributed almost $5.5 million, representing 146 new houses. Together, the golf tournament and Friends have sponsored a total of 201 new HabiJax houses for children and deserving families. The cash contribution since 1996 is in excess of $7.3 million. Delores says, "HabiJax builds houses, families build homes."
The Jacksonville Jaguars Community Relations Department executed a variety of programs and services during the 2005 season with a positive impact in the community. Community Relations managed player involvement and more than 1,000 celebrity appearances at schools, hospitals, non-profits and businesses; NFL outreach and recognition programs; youth football events; the annual Thanksgiving food drive; public service announcements; fan mail programs; and in-kind charitable donations of more than 1,400 autographed team memorabilia items for charity auctions and raffles. More than 2,500 local organizations were assisted in 2005.
"Plays for a Purpose," the player performance pledge program created by the Community Relations Department in 2004, raised $120,281 during the 2005 season for local non-profit organizations based on the players' on-field performance. Eight different position groups gave hands-on support to local non-profits: Quarterbacks lent their support to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; running backs supported the First Coast Family Center; defensive backs supported Family Counseling Services; the defensive line supported the Child Guidance Center; the linebackers supported Teen Challenge; the wide receivers supported Community Connections; the offensive line and tight ends supported the Youth Crisis Center; and special teams supported the Bridge of Northeast Florida.
Branching out from the national event held every year at the Super Bowl, Jacksonville is one of 12 NFL cities that have launched a local Taste of the NFL dinner to help raise money and awareness in the fight against hunger. The 3rd Annual Jacksonville Jaguars Taste of the NFL, held in November 2005, raised nearly $118,000 to benefit the LSS Second Harvest Food Bank. The event featured some of Jacksonville's finest chefs and several Jaguars players.
Jaguars players are also actively involved in the community, including:
· Akin Ayodele, linebacker: The Official Playbooks and Jacksonville Reads!;
· Alvin Pearman, running back: Children's Home Society;
· Byron Leftwich, quarterback: North Shore Elementary and Northwestern Middle;
· Chris Hanson, punter: CHILD Cancer Fund, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Playbooks;
· David Garrard, quarterback: Breast Cancer Awareness and Playbooks;
· Donovin Darius, strong safety: Donovin Darius Children's Foundation, Operation Blessing, Gift of Life blood drive and Jaguars Foundation's programs – Honor Rows, Playbooks and Straight Talk;
· Ernest Wilford, wide receiver: Playbooks, Straight Talk;
· Joe Zelenka, tight end/ long snapper: HabiJax, Military support, Ronald McDonald House, Straight Talk, Playbooks, Wolfson Children's Hospital;
· Kyle Brady, tight end: NFL YET Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Playbooks, Taste of the NFL;
· Maurice Williams, offensive tackle: Prostate Cancer Education Council, All-Star youth football camp and Playbooks;
· Scott Starks, cornerback: Clara White Mission; and
· Terry Cousin, cornerback: Carter G. Woodson Elementary;
All of the programs described here, and the money raised and donated, have taken place since the Jaguars came to Jacksonville on November 30, 1993. When the team was awarded by the NFL, Delores and Wayne Weaver made a commitment that the Jaguars would be winners on the field of life as well as on the football field. These direct benefits to the Jacksonville community are living proof that the Jaguars are delivering on that promise.