When the Jaguars were named the 30th National Football League franchise in 1993, Wayne and Delores Barr Weavers' vision was to give back to the community in a substantial manner. Today, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jaguars Foundation and the Weaver Family Foundation continue that commitment, responding to needs in and around the Jacksonville community. Since these organizations came to Jacksonville, each has made significant contributions locally through donations, grants, in-kind support and numerous programs designed to address the needs of First Coast residents.
Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars Foundation Chair and CEO, the Jaguars Foundation focuses on support of programs serving economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families in Jacksonville.
The Foundation awarded $1,009,550 in grants to 37 local youth-serving agencies in 2008. The grand total since 1995 is more than $11.9 million in Jacksonville and the surrounding counties of Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns.
"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 Partners for making the annual million dollar commitment to the Jaguars Foundation to support these important programs for youth and their families, which is especially important for the agencies serving low-income families in these difficult economic times."
In addition to cash grants, non-cash awards were made of nearly 11,800 Jaguars home-game tickets during the 2008 football season, with an in-kind value exceeding $430,000. The largest non-cash award program (4,150 tickets) was for the Honor Rows® program, whereby economically and socially disadvantaged youth between the ages of 9 and 17 earn a seat to home games. Participating youth from various non-profit organizations set and achieve ambitious but realistic personal goals including academic improvement, nutrition/physical fitness and community service. Other Foundation-sponsored charitable seating programs include Sailors Aweigh for United States Navy families with a parent on deployment, inner-city youth football associations, HabiJax volunteers, and families staying at Ronald McDonald House.
The Jaguars Foundation's Youth Anti-Obesity initiative is its newest program, in partnership with Wolfson Children's Hospital. The two organizations have committed more than $450,000 in grants for after-school and summer programs that promote physical fitness and healthy nutrition. They are also spearheading the local implementation of the What Moves U – PLAY 60 curriculum developed for the NFL by the American Heart Association. This is a pilot program is in its second year with sixth graders at select Duval County Public Schools to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. The goal of the program is to ensure that youth have at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day and an additional 30 minutes of physical activity after school hours. The comprehensive curriculum approaches the issue through various subjects including science, math, language arts and physical education.
Improving literacy continues to be an important part of the Foundation's mission. In partnership with Diet Pepsi, the signature program to promote reading and the use of the public libraries is the Foundation's publication of the 2008-09 edition of The Jaguars Official Playbooks®. This edition ties into the Foundation's What Moves U initiative, featuring books for children and teens about exercise and staying active, good nutrition and cooking, playing sports and fitness, and meeting challenges. Playbooks gives healthy living examples from the team's owners, head coach, players, members of The ROAR cheerleaders and team mascot JAXSON de Ville. Children may pick up a copy of Playbooks at any local public library in the five county greater Jacksonville area starting each September and as long as supplies last. The Playbooks website is available year-round at www.jaguars.com , and includes more in-depth tips for parents and interactive games for kids. During 2008 more than 14,359 visits were made to the website by youth and adults, the most ever recorded in one year.
The Foundation's Straight Talk™ program continued its partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and local media to reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STI's). Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, local media, including all commercial network and public television affiliates, and the local independent station, collaborated together to produce and broadcast the Foundation's Straight Talk television show for youth and parents, "Teens & Sex…The Real Truth 2008" in May 2008. Players Tony Pashos and Maurice Williams participated, along with local celebrities, medical and legal experts and a live middle school student audience. The winning public service announcement (PSA) by Middleburg High School students, voted by a panel and viewers of the show, was shown on the Stadium's video screens during the Jaguars preseason home game on August 16, 2008.
The Foundation is now in its 15th year of the Straight Talk program, and will air its tenth annually televised show in May 2009. Additionally, more than $1.9 million in Straight Talk grants have been made since 1999 to prevention programs at non-profits to reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of STI's.
Through the Weaver Family Foundation and personally, Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver have supported many local agencies and initiatives. Since 1995 they have made contributions to Jacksonville organizations in excess of $42.8 million.
FRIENDS of HabiJax, founded in 2001 by Delores Barr Weaver, is a partnership of local businesses including the Jaguars and the Weavers' other two companies, Liz Claiborne Shoes and Shoe Carnival. Together, FRIENDS has sponsored 154 houses representing a cash contribution to HabiJax in excess of $5.7 million. HabiJax is Jacksonville's affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Delores says, "HabiJax builds houses, families build homes."
In addition, since 2002 the Weavers and Jaguars have contributed over $1 million to various organizations in the five county area through the auction of seats in their suite, away game trips, the private use of the owners' suite for various football games and other miscellaneous fund raising opportunities.
In November, 2008, the United Way of America honored Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver with their highest award, the National United Way Tocqueville Society Award. The Weavers were recognized for their leadership, sustained service over a period of years, creativity in devising new and better ways of meeting the community's needs and tangible impact from their efforts.
The Jaguars Community Relations department works as an extension of the team to develop and implement resourceful and valuable programs that contribute directly to the Jacksonville-area community. As a highly visible organization, the Jaguars – including players, coaches and front office staff – acknowledge and accept their unique role and work to improve the welfare of people throughout the region. Among the causes and issues targeted by Jaguars programs are promoting literacy and education, health and wellness, physical fitness, and outreach programs with non-profit and community groups.
In 2008, Jaguars players made close to 500 appearances throughout our community. The majority of appearances are motivational, educational and charity-related. Players involved included veterans and rookies alike, from quarterback David Garrard and offensive lineman Tony Pashos, to this year's Rookie Club members consisting of all rookie players on the roster and the practice squad. During 2008, the Jaguars players, The ROAR cheerleaders, team mascot JAXSON de Ville, staff members and other team personalities made approximately 1,300 visits to schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations and businesses throughout the region.
The Jaguars also provided fund-raising assistance to more than 1,400 Florida non- profit organizations in 2008 by donating autographed team memorabilia for auctions and raffles.
Some of the Jaguars players actively involved in the community include:
• Drayton Florence – Drayton Florence Foundation, Ribault Middle School and What
• David Garrard – Breast Cancer Awareness, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, 2008-09 Playbooks featured player
• John Henderson – Baptist Heart Hospital, 2006-07 Playbooks featured player
• Clint Ingram – Police Athletic League
• Maurice Jones-Drew – I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, 2007-08 Playbooks featured player
• Derek Landri – Cathedral Foundation Meals on Wheels
• Marcedes Lewis – Community Connections
• Rashean Mathis – Real Sense Prosperity, YMCA Campaign (United Way initiative)
• Brad Meester – Children's Miracle Network and 2008 Appleton-Parkersburg Relief Fund
• Montell Owens – What Moves U, City of Jacksonville Department of Parks and Recreation (World Wide Day of Play spokesperson)
• Tony Pashos – Pashos Pals, Guardian Ad Litem, Military support and Straight Talk
• Josh Scobee – CHILD Cancer Fund
• Paul Spicer – Catholic Charities
• Scott Starks – Clara White Mission
• Fred Taylor – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Operation Blessing, Dairy Farmers Incorporated, 2007-08 Playbooks featured player
• Maurice Williams – Straight Talk
• George Wrighster – Community Connections
• Joe Zelenka – All Pro Dad, HabiJax, Military support, Ronald McDonald House, Straight Talk, and Taste of the NFL
A great football team is more than a collection of superb athletes – it is a partner with its community and is involved in solving problems, creating opportunities, and enriching the quality of life for youth and families through unique resources, teamwork and goodwill. 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.