In 2002, fifteen NFL teams have created their own foundation to better youth in their surrounding communities. Most of the teams have focused on education, and improving the quality and safety of football fields in surrounding areas schools and parks.
One NFL team foundation was implemented even before the team ever played their first game in 1995. The Jaguars Foundation, implemented in 1994 by the Jacksonville Jaguars serves "the greater Jacksonville area through strategic financial, networking, and volunteer support benefiting economically and socially disadvantaged youth and families" (www.jaguars.com).
A New Jaguars Foundation initiative, Ask Dr. Linda is part of its Straight Talk program's Webpage. Ask Dr. Linda will be a special section within the Straight Talk website where youth ages 13 years or older can ask questions relating to sexual health.
In partnership with the University of North Florida, the Nike/Jaguars Foundation Community Scholars program have established what is now a $500,000 scholarship fund. This scholarship involves UNF Honors students in mentoring inner-city high school students who have participated in the Honor Rows program or the Let Us Play Sports Camp. Student candidates also must be nominated by their youth agency and have demonstrated a commitment to public service. Scholarship recipients receive full tuition for four years as well as mentorship support before and during their college experience, increasing their chances for lasting academic, volunteer and professional success.
Jaguars Don't Smoke:
The Jaguars have taken a stand against smoking. The Nation's largest private health supporter, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has partnered with the Jaguars to "reduce youth tobacco use, sending a clear message that smoking is neither "cool" nor conducive to athletic performance" (jaguars.com). As part of their message, the Jaguars do not have any advertisements that promote tobacco use. Instead the Jags have pictures of a jaguar stomping out a pack of cigarette's throughout the stadium.
The Jaguars were the first NFL team to remove all tobacco advertisements from the back cover of the Jaguars game program.
The developing and distribution of "play books" to local libraries. Play books are booklets that list and describe books that Jaguars players and coaches found particularly motivating as youth. This program encourages youth to read and visit local public libraries. Just by showing their library card, Playbooks are given to the youth. Through this program, players, cheerleaders and the team mascot Jaxson de Ville have encouraged youth and parental reading.
Honor Rows is the largest of several Jaguars Foundation programs using Jaguars game seats for charitable purposes. Other programs include Sailors Aweigh (for youth whose parents are on deployment with the Navy), youth football, HabiJax, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, Nike Let Us Play Camp volunteers, and others. During the 2001 season, the Jaguars foundation allocated approximately 11,000 seats for charitable purposes to home games, with a total value exceeding $440,000.
© 2002 Nancy Benton Parish