When the Jaguars were named the 30thNational Football League franchise in 1993, team owners 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 $978,845 in grants to 36 local youth-serving agencies in 2010. The grand total since 1995 is more than $13.8 million in the greater Jacksonville area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties). This level of giving is among the top few of professional sports teams in any league.
"Our dream of the Jaguars Foundation began even before Jacksonville was awarded the 30thNFL 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 the Foundation's grant making and other 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 more than 11,300 Jaguars home-game tickets during the 2010 football season, with an in-kind value exceeding $650,000. The largest non-cash award program (5,942 tickets) was for the Honor Rows®program, whereby economically and socially disadvantaged youth between the ages of nine 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.
The remaining balance of charitable use seating (5,358 tickets) was donated to Foundation-sponsored programs including *Honoring Our Troops, *in partnership with the Jacksonville USO,for local United States Military and Guard unit families with a parent on deployment; inner-city youth football associations; HabiJax volunteers and families staying at Ronald McDonald House.
In addition to game tickets, the Jaguars organization also provided other in-kind donations in the community. In 2010 the Jaguars Foundation distributed 1,500 pairs of athletic shoes donated by Reebok to area low-income children, teens and young adults.
Delores Barr Weaver exclaimed, "Through the NFL/Jaguars Play 60 Challenge program in partnership with Baptist Health, we encourage children to have at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, 30 minutes during school and 30 minutes after school. Having good athletic shoes is important for these children to be physically active."
Wayne Weaver added, "Reebok is a major partner with the NFL and being part of the 'NFL family' here in Jacksonville has allowed the Jaguars organization to access this generous donation."
The Youth Anti-Obesity Initiative,Jaguars/NFL Play 60 Challenge, in partnership with Baptist Health/Wolfson Children's Hospital utilizes a national curriculum from the NFL and American Heart Association to offer hands-on educational activities to sixth graders at area public middle schools designed to prevent and reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity. The program encourages students to have at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day and 30 minutes after school. It also focuses on improving nutrition. Additionally, Baptist Health and the Jaguars Foundation have partnered in awarding youth anti-obesity grants to six local nonprofits totaling over $500,000. Also, in coordination with the national Pepsi Refresh healthy living project, the Jaguars Foundation and Baptist Health are partnering with Pepsi to create or expand community gardens in Jacksonville and the surrounding counties.
Improving children's and family literacy continues to be an important part of the Foundation's mission. In partnership with Pepsi, the Gate Foundation of Gate Petroleum and Scholastic Books,the Jaguars Foundation is providing "home libraries" of sets of three books to every child and teen that enters the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, or any of the local domestic violence shelters. The youth will be able to take these books with them when they leave the shelter.
The Foundation's Straight Talk™ program continued its partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the Weaver Family Foundation 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 network affiliates, the local independent station, Comcast Cable, The Florida Times-Union and Clear Channel Outdoor, collaborated to produce and broadcast the Foundation's Straight Talk television show for youth and parents, "Teens & Sex…The Real Truth." Aired in May 2010, it was the eleventh consecutively produced show and marked the 16th year of the Jaguars Foundation's Straight Talk program.
The show was co-hosted by peer hosts Ashley Sutton and Nicholas Barrera and featured Jaguars Player Derek Cox, radio personality DJ Dr. Doom; and The ROAR of the Jaguars who were represented by Kayla, Ashley, and Jessie; a studio audience of local middle and high school students; medical expert Dr. Linda Dinerman, and legal expert the Honorable Libby Senterfitt, 4th Circuit Court Judge. The winning public service announcement (PSA) by Middleburg High School was shown on the EverBank Field video screens during the Jaguars' home game on August 21, 2010. The Foundation will air its twelfth annually televised teen forum in May 2011.
The media has partnered to bring the Straight Talk message year-round through a high-profile Public Service Campaign, which includes PSA's produced by CW-17 and aired by all television stations and jacksonville.com as well as radio PSA's aired on Jaguars Radio Network affiliate stations. The PSA's feature Jaguars players, The ROAR of the Jaguars cheerleaders and Delores Barr Weaver urging teens and parents to discuss the issues and consequences around teen sex. Additionally, more than two million dollars in Straight Talk grants in partnership with the Weaver Family Foundation have been made since 1999 to support comprehensive sexual health education and prevention programs at non-profits to reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of STI's.
In December of 2010 the Jaguars organization donated $12,500 to the Second Harvest Food Bank, matched by the Weaver Family Foundation for a total of $25,000 to provide holiday meals for needy families and senior citizens. SecondHarvest Food Bank volunteers assembled 1,400 holiday meal food boxes and added a $10 Winn-Dixie gift card to each box for the purchase of a small turkey or other items. The distribution kick-off was held at the NFL–YET (Youth Education Town) Boys and Girls Club in Brentwood during Christmas week. The food was secured at a discount from Winn-Dixie, the Jaguars' official supermarket, and Second Harvest Food Bank.
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 $46.8 million.
FRIENDS of HabiJax, founded in 2001 by Delores Barr Weaver, as a partnership of local businesses including the Jaguars and the Weavers' other two companies, Liz Claiborne Shoes and Shoe Carnival. Together, FRIENDS 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 $1.3 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 the Gator Bowl and Florida-Georgia football games and other miscellaneous fund raising opportunities.
In November of 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 physical fitness through the NFL/Jaguars Play 60 Challenge, literacy and education, health and wellness, and outreach programs with non-profit and community groups.
In 2010, Jaguars players made more than 650 appearances throughout our community. The majority of appearances are motivational, educational and charity-related and many involve the NFL Play 60 Challenge, a league-wide initiative to combat obesity. Players involved included veterans and rookies alike, from running back Maurice Jones-Drew and center Brad Meester, to the large number of members of the Rookie Club consisting of all rookie players on the roster and the practice squad. During 2010 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 approximately 700 Florida non-profit organizations in 2010 by donating autographed team memorabilia for auctions and raffles.
Some of those actively involved in the community include:
- Head Coach Jack Del Rio –Jack Del Rio Foundation, heavily involved with children from the Naval Station Mayport as part of the "Jack's Pack" program, Police Athletic League, charity golf tournaments, Keeping Young Athletes in the Game program sponsored by the Jacksonville Sports Medicine, and Wolfson Children's Hospital
- Derek Cox – Clara White Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank, Hometown Huddle, Straight Talk, daniel Memorial
- Justin Durant – Operation Blessing
- David Garrard – Breast Cancer Awareness, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, 2008-09 *Playbooks *featured player, ticket giveaways through David Garrard Foundation
- Rashad Jennings – NFL Play 60, The United Way, Hometown Huddle, Straight Talk
- Greg Jones – Thanksgiving food giveaway, Hubbard House
- Maurice Jones-Drew – I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Thanksgiving meals, book bag giveaways, Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation, 2007-08 Playbooks featured player
- Marcedes Lewis – Community Connections, Jacksonville Humane Society
- Vince Manuwai – Children's Home Society
- Rashean Mathis – Real Sense Prosperity, YMCA Campaign (United Way initiative), Clara White Mission Bowling Tournament
- Brad Meester – Children's Miracle Network, Brad's Buddies, book bag giveaway, the Guardian ad Litem
- Uche Nwaneri – Gaming 4 the Cause which benefited The House of Ambrose Foundation
- Montell Owens – NFL/Jaguars Play 60 Challenge spokesperson, City of Jacksonville Department of Parks and Recreation (World Wide Day of Play spokesperson), Hometown Huddle
- Josh Scobee – Child Cancer Fund, Meals on Wheels Annual Golf tournament, Nemours Children's Clinic, Straight Talk
- Daryl Smith – Wolfson Children's Hospital, celebrity chef for the Salvation Army
- Ernest Wilford - The Ernest Wilford Foundation, The Bridge of Northeast Florida
- Kirk Morrison – The Kirk Morrison Foundation, Community Connection
- Adam Podlesh – Duval County School Board, American Cancer Society and local hospitals
- Jeremy Cain – Duval County School Board, American Cancer Society and local hospitals
- Zach Potter – Christmas meal distribution
- Terrance Knighton – Served Thanksgiving meals, Team Teal
- Tyson Alualu – Ronald McDonald House, Operation Blessing, Team Teal
- Russell Allen – daniel Memorial, Community Connections, Straight Talk
- Aaron Kampman – daniel Memorial
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.