JAGUARS, JAGUARS FOUNDATION AND WEAVER FAMILY FOUNDATION
ARE MAKING SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FIRST COAST
The Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jaguars Foundation and the Weaver Family Foundation continue to be active and productive, in responding to needs in and around the Jacksonville community. In the seven years since these organizations came to Jacksonville, each has made significant contributions locally through donations, grants, in-kind support and numerous programs designed to specifically address the needs of First Coast residents.
In 2000 alone, more than 2,300 organizations - including charities, non-profits, schools, churches and civic groups - were assisted by the Jaguars' community affairs department through personal appearances or donations. A total of 1,077 autographed items were donated to assist in fund-raising events, and a total of 1,232 personal appearances were made by Jaguars players, staff, cheerleaders and team mascot.
Since its first grants in March of 1995, the Jaguars Foundation has awarded strategic grants totaling more than $3.7 million throughout the Jacksonville area to programs designed to assist disadvantaged youth. This year $480,000 was awarded during the first grant cycle to 21 agencies. Currently, the Foundation is reviewing applications submitted for the second cycle and anticipates awarding up to $1 million in total financial grants this year. In addition to cash grants, the Foundation awards more than 11,000 Jaguars home game tickets with an in-kind value exceeding $420,000. The major ticket program is Honor Rows, whereby disadvantaged youth earn a seat to games by setting and achieving goals for community service, academic improvement and personal behavior. Each child also pledges to remain drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free. This year, more than 4,100 Honor Rows youth and their chaperones are expected to earn their seats to a Jaguars home game. Other charitable seating programs include Sailors Aweigh for Navy families whose mom or dad is on deployment, coach Tom Coughlin's Jay Fund, youth football associations, HabiJax, Ronald McDonald House and many more.
A website, www.playbooks.org , was launched in October 2000 to promote reading and encourage the use of the public library system. playbooks.org is an electronic version of the Playbooks reading list, plus interactive and fun features for kids such as games, e-mail to Jaxson de Ville, and book reviews. There are also helpful hints and website links for parents.
Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, a valuable partnership with the local media continues, as they help strengthen ongoing Straight Talk efforts. Straight Talk, the collaborative program focusing on reducing teen pregnancy, HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, hosted its third live town hall forum on May 24, 2001. The show, entitled "Teens & Sex … The Real Truth 2001," was simulcast by two television stations on May 24 and rebroadcast by the other five television stations from May 25-31. Straight Talk continues to inform and provide resources through its website, which can be entered through www.jaguars.com or www.jacksonville.com Public service announcements will continue to air on the stadium Jumbotrons at Jaguars home games in the 2001 season, and the Foundation continues to fund programs specifically addressing this issue through Straight Talk grants, done in partnership with the Weaver Family Foundation. The Straight Talk program was featured on the nationally syndicated sports magazine television show "More Than a Game" in spring 2001.
Through the Foundation's establishment of the Nike/Jaguars Foundation Community Scholars Program, full college tuition scholarships have been awarded to selected Honor Rows participants. This has grown into a $500,000 program with matching funds from the State of Florida, and involves mentor assistance from honors students at the University of North Florida.
The Foundation has also assisted established programs in the community, and has served to distribute in-kind support items which are donated, such as used bicycles, clothing, computers, office equipment, and even school playground equipment.
Partnering with the nation's largest health care philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jaguars Foundation has established an aggressive campaign to reduce use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs by youth. Included in this campaign are public service announcements featuring active Jaguars players, sending the message that smoking is neither "cool" nor conducive to athletic performance.
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 totaling more than $6.2 million, which includes $200,000 of their $1 million commitment to The United Way of Northeast Florida. The balance of that commitment will be paid over the next four years.
Delores Barr Weaver, Owner/Partner of the Jaguars and Chair and CEO of the Jaguars Foundation, has co-chaired the HabiJax Golf Tournament since its inception in 1996. By the end of 2001, the tournament will build seven houses, which will bring the total houses built since 1996 to 25, representing a total contribution to HabiJax in excess of $820,000. Once again, the 2001 tournament has raised the bar with a gross of $247,000 and $25,000 in expenses for a net profit of $222,000.
In addition to the Jaguars' work, that of the Jaguars Foundation and the Weavers, tremendous social impact has been made by foundations established by Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin and several players. The Jay Fund, established by Coughlin in 1996, assists local youth and their families who are affected by leukemia. A net total of $786,000 has been raised through The Jay Fund Celebrity Golf Classic, with those funds going directly to aid local families and to provide research in the area of pediatric leukemia.
Quarterback Mark Brunell's charity golf tournament, begun in 1997, has donated more than $550,000 to Wolfson Children's Hospital, specifically to benefit children receiving pediatric and neonatal intensive care. Offensive tackle Tony Boselli's foundation has several programs, including Shop With a Jock and Most Valuable Teacher Award, as well as a celebrity golf tournament which has netted more than $400,000 to fund foundation programs and award 20 full-tuition college scholarships.
Wide receiver Keenan McCardell's Touching Hands Foundation supports, among other programs, breast cancer research at Baptist Regional Cancer Institute. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith is active with asthma education programs through the American Lung Association and Wolfson Children's Hospital.
Some of the other Jaguars players actively involved in community awareness programs and fund-raising are: cornerback Fernando Bryant (Hubbard House), safety Donovin Darius (Communities in Schools), placekicker Mike Hollis (Wolfson Children's Hospital/American Cancer Society), running back Fred Taylor (Jacksonville Housing Partnership), defensive end Renaldo Wynn (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation), cornerback Aaron Beasley (Navajo Nation Youth Leadership Football Camp), linebacker Kevin hardy (YIELD Foundation) and tight end Kyle Brady (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).
All of the programs described here, and all of the money raised and donated, has taken place in the seven years since the Jaguars came to Jacksonville. When the team was awarded on November 30, 1993, Wayne and Delores 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.