The Jaguars Foundation Board announced the awarding of $334,000 in grants in its second and final grant cycle of 2009 to 12 local nonprofit organizations serving economically and socially disadvantaged children and families in Northeast Florida. The Foundation's total grant awards for 2009 exceeded $1 million.
Under the leadership of Delores Barr Weaver, Jaguars Foundation Chair and CEO, the Foundation's total grant giving since 1995 is more than $12.9 million for youth-serving programs in the Jacksonville area, which includes Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties. This level of giving is among the top few of professional sports teams.
"Our dream of the Jaguars Foundation began even before Jacksonville was awarded the 30th NFL franchise in 1993, and we awarded our first grants before the team played its first game in 1995," Weaver remarked. "I am proud of the Jaguars Partners for making a million dollar commitment annually to support the Foundation's grant making and other important programs for youth and their families." Unlike most professional sports teams, the Jaguars Foundation does not solicit contributions nor hold fundraising events.
Executive Director Peter Racine added, "This has been a difficult economic year for many families in our community. Most of our grants were aimed at helping to ensure that core services continued at the agencies we support to help these families, such as quality after-school and child care programs, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Metro Kids Konnection, Police Athletic League, the Reed Educational Campus of the National Council of Negro Women's Child Watch Partnership of Jacksonville, and St. Gerard Campus in St. Augustine." Racine added, "Youth and older teens are particularly vulnerable, and the Foundation provided grants to support construction of new group homes for foster care children at St. Augustine Youth Services and support for youth transitioning to independent living at the Youth Crisis Center's new Touchstone Village."
The Foundation grants also included: Two grant awards to provide continued access for children from low-income families to excellent art and theatre programs, including the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine and Stage Aurora Theatrical Company in Jacksonville; a grant for urgently needed roof repairs at Dignity U Wear's main clothing warehouse; support for the volunteer mentoring program at Hilltop Apartments through HOPE Worldwide; and, in partnership with Baptist Health/Wolfson Children's Hospital, the Foundation awarded War on Poverty Florida a grant to promote good nutrition and reduce childhood obesity.
The following program grants were awarded in 2009 Cycle Two:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, $50,000. Youth programs at the NFL-YET (Youth Education Town) Boys & Girls Club in Brentwood.
- Dignity U Wear Foundation, Inc., $10,000. Special grant to help with the repair of roof leaks at the main warehouse of Dignity U Wear used to store and distribute brand new clothing to children and adults in need.
- HOPE Worldwide, $5,000. Saturday academy and mentor program at Hilltop Apartments.
- Limelight Theatre, Inc., $25,000. Children's theatre program serving children from low-income families in St. Johns County.
- Metro Kids Konnection, $22,000. After school and summer program at the Cleveland Arms Apartments and surrounding neighborhood.
- National Council of Negro Women's Child Watch Partnership of Jacksonville, $25,000. Community based after-school tutoring and summer enrichment program for tween girls at the Reed Educational Campus.
- Police Athletic League, Jacksonville, $50,000. After-school education and recreation program at Mallison Park, west of downtown Jacksonville.
- Stage Aurora Theatrical Company, Inc., $22,000. Community outreach after-school program designed to bring music and theatre education to youth.
- St. Augustine Youth Services, $50,000. Capital campaign for a new therapeutic group home campus.
- St. Gerard Campus, $25,000. Nursery and daycare for pregnant teens and teen parents attending St. Gerard's high school.
- War on Poverty Florida, $20,000. Childhood obesity prevention project targeted for youth in Northwest Jacksonville, funded through a partnership with Baptist Health/Wolfson Children's Hospital ($10,000 from the Jaguars Foundation and $10,000 from Baptist Health).
- Youth Crisis Center, $30,000. Support for the youth resource team at Touchstone Village to help older youth transition to independent living.
- Honor Rows® uses seats at Jaguars home games to reward economically and socially disadvantaged youth for reaching pre-determined academic, behavioral, and public service goals; * Straight Talk™, in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and local media, to help reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases; * The Official Playbooks®, in partnership with Diet Pepsi, to encourage reading and use of local public libraries; * Jaguars Play 60 Challenge, co-sponsored by Baptist Health/Wolfson Children's Hospital, in partnership with the NFL, American Heart Association and Duval County Public Schools, to help prevent youth obesity, promote physical activity and good nutrition; * Jaguars Don't Smoke, an initiative to reduce tobacco use among youth.