JAGUARS, JAGUARS FOUNDATION AND WEAVER FAMILY FOUNDATION ARE MAKING SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FIRST COAST
When the Jaguars were named the 30th 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 $1,057,850 in grants to thirty seven local youth-serving agencies in 2007. The grand total since 1995 is more than $10.9 million in the Jacksonville area (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," 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."
In addition to cash grants, non-cash awards were made of nearly 11,800 Jaguars home-game tickets during the 2007 football season, with an in-kind value exceeding $420,000. The largest non-cash award program (4,150 tickets) is Honor Rows®, whereby economically and socially disadvantaged youth between the ages of 9 and 17 earned a seat to home games. Participating youth from various non-profit organizations set and achieve ambitious but realistic personal goals, such as academic improvement, nutrition/physical fitness and community service. Other Foundation-sponsored charitable seating programs included 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 newest Foundation program, in partnership with Baptist Health, is a Youth Anti-Obesity initiative. Utilizing resources from the NFL and American Heart Association's national partnership, called What Moves U, a pilot program was begun with sixth graders at 6 area public middle schools to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. The curriculum approaches the issue through various subjects including science, math, language arts and physical education. Additionally, Baptist Health and the Jaguars Foundation partnered in awarding 5 community-based pilot grants totaling over $130,000.
Improving literacy continues to be an important part of the Foundation's mission. In partnership with PEPSI, the signature program to promote reading is the Foundation's publication of the 2007-08 edition of The Jaguars Official Playbooks®, available at local public libraries or on-line at www.jaguars.com This colorful booklet, featuring star running backs, Pro Bowler #28 Fred Taylor and #32 Maurice Jones-Drew on the cover, highlights books for all ages from geographic regions of various NFL teams who the Jaguars played. The books are presented by the team's owners, players, head coach, vice president-player personnel, cheerleaders and mascot JAXSON de Ville.
In addition to Playbooks, the Jaguars Foundation again led a local coalition of benefactors to partner with the national non-profit First Book to distribute more than 130,000 new children's books to area low income families. To-date, the Foundation and its partners have distributed 455,000 children's books in Jacksonville.
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 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 2007" in May 2007. Players Ernest Wilford and Joe Zelenka, along with local celebrities, medical and legal experts and a live middle school student audience participated. The winning public service announcement (PSA) by Stanton College Preparatory School students, voted by viewers of the show, was shown on the Stadium's video screens during the Jaguars home game on August 18, 2007. The Foundation will air its ninth annually televised teen forum in May 2008. Additionally, more than $1.7 million dollars 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 $41.8 million, including personal contributions in 2007 in the amount of $21 million to 38 non-profit agencies in the Jacksonville area.
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 have sponsored 153 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."
The Jacksonville Jaguars Community Relations Department works as an instrument of worth by creating and implementing a broad scope of community support. The department manages player involvement and celebrity appearances including NFL outreach and recognition programs, youth football, an annual food drive, public service announcements, fan mail programs, and in-kind charitable donations of autographed team memorabilia, among other programs.
During 2007, Jaguars players, The ROAR cheerleaders, team mascot JAXSON de Ville, staff members and other team personalities made more than 1,000 visits to schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations and businesses throughout the region. The majority of appearances are motivational, educational and charity-related. Jaguars players made nearly 500 appearances, including more than 200 during the regular football season. Players involved included veterans and rookies alike, from running back Fred Taylor to wide receiver Ernest Wilford who served as the Jaguars spokesperson for the What Moves U program, a national youth program that promotes physical fitness and good health. Linebacker Mike Peterson, through the Mike Peterson Foundation, started the Just Read It! Star of the Month program designed to award outstanding students at the elementary and middle school levels in Duval County based on their reading excellence in the classroom, as well as their commitment to reading. Maurice Jones-Drew, Quinn Gray, Vince Manuwai, Terry Cousin and Rashean Mathis participated in a number of appearances including school assemblies, hospital visits and visiting children at the Ronald McDonald House.
The Jaguars also provided fund-raising assistance to more than 1,400 Florida non- profit organizations annually by donating autographed team memorabilia for auctions and raffles.
Branching out from the national event held every year at the Super Bowl, Jacksonville is one of a number of NFL cities that have launched a local Taste of the NFL dinner, featuring some of Jacksonville's finest chefs and several Jaguars players, to help raise money and awareness in the fight against hunger. The 5th Annual Jacksonville Jaguars Taste of the NFL, held in September 2007 raised over $160,000 to benefit the LSS Second Harvest Food Bank, surpassing last year's total by more than $65,000. Since it's inception in 2003, more than $500,000 has been raised.
Jaguars players involved in the community in the 2007 season included:
• Terry Cousin – All Pro Dad, March of Dimes of Northeast Florida Division
• David Garrard – Breast Cancer Awareness
• Quinn Gray – Kernan Middle School
• Reggie Hayward – Prostate Cancer Education Council
• John Henderson – Baptist Heart Hospital, 2006-07 Playbooks featured player
• Maurice Jones-Drew – I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, 2007 Playbooks featured player
• Rashean Mathis – RealSense Prosperity, YMCA Campaign (United Way initiative)
• Brad Meester – Children's Miracle Network
• Mike Peterson – Mike Peterson Foundation, Police Athletic League, Duval County Schools
• Josh Scobee – CHILD Cancer Fund
• Paul Spicer – Community Rehabilitation Center, Justice Coalition
• Scott Starks - Clara White Mission
• Marcus Stroud – The Marcus Stroud Foundation, 2006-07 Playbooks featured player, Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, Police Athletic League of Jacksonville, Pathways Academy, Kernan Middle School and Clara White Mission
• Ernest Wilford – First Tee of St. Johns County, Straight Talk, Taste of the NFL, What Moves U
• Fred Taylor – Operation Blessing, Dairy Farmers Incorporated, 2007 Playbooks featured player
• Joe Zelenka – All Pro Dad, HabiJax, Military support, Ronald McDonald House, Straight Talk, and Wolfson Children's Hospital
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