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Prudential Network Realty collected more than 300 backpacks and school supplies for local children during the company’s annual Backpack Challenge. Read the story at left.

Nonprofit News: Highlighting Jacksonville’s Philanthropic Community

As our community continues to face a tight economy and shrinking budgets, the Daily Record has established this page that will each week chronicle the efforts of local nonprofit organizations. Bailey Publishing & Communications invites all members of the local nonprofit community to submit news, announcements, success stories and any other information they believe would be of interest to our readers. Email to: nonprofitnews@baileypub.com.

We also encourage our readers to become more aware of the needs of these worthy organizations as they try to continue to provide valuable services with reduced resources.


Realtors collect record number of backpacks
Prudential Network Realty recently completed its 12th annual Backpack Challenge, collecting backpacks filled with school supplies for local children.

The company’s team of real estate professionals collected more than 300 backpacks, a record number, during this year’s campaign.

The backpacks and supplies were donated to Community Connections of Jacksonville, the Sulzbacher Center, the Children’s Home Society, Habitat for Humanity of St. Augustine/St. Johns County and Heart for Homeless in Fleming Island.

“Every child wants to have his or her own backpack and the supplies needed for school. It is a wonderful gift and a good way to kick off a successful school year,” said Christy Budnick, executive vice president of residential real estate, Prudential Network Realty.

“For many children, having a new backpack and school supplies gives them a sense of pride. We appreciate the support and donations we received from our team and the community during the Backpack Challenge,” she said.

During the campaign, backpacks and school supplies were collected at Prudential Network Realty’s offices throughout Northeast Florida.

The backpacks were purchased for students in kindergarten through grade 12 and filled with school supplies such as paper, pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers and one-subject spiral notebooks.


$1 million for ‘Achievers for Life’
Community leaders Oscar and Cathy Munoz and United Way Board Chair Travis Storey announced the couple’s $1 million donation to establish an “Achievers for Life” initiative Aug. 17 at Eugene J. Butler Middle School.

It is the seventh AFL initiative created in Duval County and the first in the New Town Success Zone.

“Achievers for Life” is a United Way-supported initiative that works to identify sixth-grade students who are at risk of failing in school and eventually dropping out. 

Research has shown that signs such as poor attendance, English or math failure and out-of-school suspensions are strong indicators that a student will not graduate and, if identified early, students and their families can receive the appropriate services to ensure they graduate on time.

For the 2010 school year, Duval County reported a 66.6 percent graduation rate, which lags the 79 percent rate for the rest of the state.

Partners in the program include Duval County Public Schools, Jewish Family & Community Services, Communities In Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida, Learning To Finish and volunteer mentors across Northeast Florida.

“This very generous gift from the Munozes not only benefits Eugene J. Butler, but it also benefits hundreds of families in the New Town Success Zone,” said Connie Hodges, president of United Way of Northeast Florida. 

“We are proud and excited to welcome Eugene Butler to the Achievers for Life family and we look forward to further expanding this great initiative to other areas in our community and continuing to improve Northeast Florida’s graduation rate,” she said.

“Oscar and Cathy are a great team. Their commitment and involvement with United Way illustrates their personal dedication to improving the outcome for students,” she said

It is estimated that one in three high school students do not graduate with their class. The dropout rate also contributes to some economically sobering statistics as well. 

For example, the Alliance for Education estimates that dropouts during their lifetime will earn about $270,000 less than graduates. 

Throughout the 2010 school year in the five-county area (Duval, Nassau, Baker, Clay and St. Johns), 3,823 students dropped out, which represents a potential $1 billion loss to the Northeast Florida economy.

“We are very excited to expand this proven program to another neighborhood in Jacksonville,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals.

“With the help of Achievers for Life, we are identifying those at-risk students early in their educational journey and increasing Duval’s graduation rate by keeping them on track to graduate and contribute to the community,” he said.

“On behalf of the entire Duval County Public Schools system and our citizens, I want to thank Oscar and Cathy for their gracious donation and continuing support,” he said.

Munoz joined CSX in 2003 and is executive vice president and CFO.

He is responsible for managing all financial, strategic planning, information technology, purchasing and real estate activities for the transportation company.

The Munozes are active in many United Way efforts and the couple most recently agreed to be team captains for “Team de Tocqueville,” the 2011 Tocqueville Society campaign co-chaired by Jacksonville Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver.

The Tocqueville Society was adopted by United Way of Northeast Florida in 1987 as a way to recognize individuals and couples who gave $10,000 or more annually and for their outstanding voluntary service and philanthropic leadership. 


Grants awarded to Children’s Home Society
In honor of what would have been automotive pioneer and philanthropist Jim Moran’s 93rd birthday, The Jim Moran Foundation awarded two grants for $93,000 each to the Intercoastal (Fort Lauderdale) and Buckner (Jacksonville) divisions of Children’s Home Society of Florida for the Safe Babies initiative.

The foundation announced its grants during Founder’s Day, an annual celebration across all companies and locations of JM Family Enterprises Inc., a diversified automotive company that Jim Moran established in 1968.

Each year, the foundation provides two special grants –– one in North Florida and one in South Florida –– to continue Jim Moran’s legacy of giving back to children and families.

“Jim believed every child should have a nurturing environment in which to learn and grow,” said Jan Moran, chair and president of The Jim Moran Foundation.

“By helping better prepare and equip moms and dads for the responsibilities of parenthood, as well as through offering them resources to create safe, loving homes today, we hope to strengthen families for generations to come,” said Moran.

Through the Safe Babies program, young or inexperienced mothers and at-risk families with young children from birth to age 5 receive in-home counseling and behavioral health support.

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