Nonprofit News: Highlighting Jacksonville's Philanthropic Community

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  • | 12:00 p.m. June 12, 2012
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Students from two elementary schools graduated recently from the Girls Inc. "GirlSMART" literacy program. Read the story below.
Students from two elementary schools graduated recently from the Girls Inc. "GirlSMART" literacy program. Read the story below.
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As our community continues to face a tight economy and shrinking budgets, the Daily Record has established this feature that each week reports the efforts of local nonprofit organizations and the individuals and businesses that support them.

Bailey Publishing & Communications invites all members of the local nonprofit community to email news, announcements and success stories to: [email protected].

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

Girls’ literacy program celebrates graduates

The Girls Inc. “GirlSMART” literacy program celebrated student graduation last week with a crowd of parents and teachers.

GirlSMART, a national literacy project, provides girls who are below grade level in reading with a dedicated time and place to improve their reading skills. Kindergarten, first- and second-grade girls from Fort Caroline and Arlington Heights elementary schools were recognized and celebrated at a graduation ceremony in honor of their improvement.

The ceremony included personalized graduation caps, diplomas, medals and individual awards.

Low literacy levels show a strong correlation with poverty, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, crime and unemployment. Studies show that at-risk children are in critical need of effective instruction in the early years so they can develop stronger reading and writing skills.

GirlSMART stresses the importance of coordinating literacy intervention with regular classroom instruction to enhance the foundation for further learning.

Girls Inc. of Jacksonville is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing girls, ages 5-18, to be self-confident, responsible and well-rounded individuals.

For more information about Girls Inc. or the organization’s summer camp programs, visit

Weavers’ offer gift for music education

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra received an endowment gift from Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver in support of its music education programs.

The Weavers’ gift of $750,000 will be held in an account at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville designated for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

The symphony will use the gift’s annual disbursement to support the newly named “J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Music Education Series.”

“We firmly believe that the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s service and commitment to music education has the power to transform lives. Providing sustainable support for the symphony’s educational mission is a sound investment for our city and its citizens, especially the children,” said Delores Barr Weaver.

“It is our hope that this gift inspires others in our community to give significant support to our symphony, one of the vital cultural pillars of the First Coast,” said Wayne Weaver.

The gift will support programs in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s educational offerings that annually serve more than 80,000 residents of the community.

“While the Weavers have contributed generously to the symphony’s educational programs for years, this new endowment gift solidifies their commitment. They have established a gift that will forever support the educational advancement of our community through music,” said Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Stacy Ridenour.

Symphony programs designated under the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Music Education Series include “Musical Storybooks” early learning and literacy; “Young People’s Concerts” for elementary school children; “Jump Start Strings” free after-school violin instruction in partnership with Communities In Schools; “Instrument Zoo” ensemble performance visits to schools and senior centers; and master classes by visiting guest artists.

The costs of the symphony’s educational programs add up to $1 million of its $8 million annual operating expenses.

Bank supports course for entrepreneurs

Fifth Third Bank North Florida awarded a $60,000 grant to the JAX Chamber Foundation Inc. for “Get Smart!”

The new entrepreneurial education program, designed for small business owners, combines mentoring and training workshops.

The six-month program will begin in September and is based on a national curriculum developed by The Kauffman Foundation.

The course is aimed at helping small businesses reach their potential through proven strategies and processes to sustain growth and create efficient operations.

At the conclusion of the program, each participant will have completed 30 classroom hours and received 48 hours of mentoring.

“Fifth Third Bank recognizes that small businesses are a huge economic driver and we want to help these businesses in Jacksonville succeed,” said Nathaniel Herring, city president for Fifth Third Bank North Florida.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for business owners in Jacksonville to focus on business growth, and we are so grateful for Fifth Third Bank’s investment,” said Sandy Bartow, vice president of the Entrepreneurial Growth Division of the JAX Chamber.

Interested candidates can apply at Candidates must meet certain criteria and apply between Monday and July 19.

For additional information, contact Carlton Robinson, senior director of entrepreneurial growth, at 366-6650 or [email protected].

The investment is made possible by Fifth Third Bancorp’s CRA Enterprise Investment Fund, which is designed to strengthen CRA lending, investment and service performance across the company.

It was established in 2011 and has invested $1.4 million nationwide in its first year.

Meninak Club seeking grant applicants

The Meninak Club of Jacksonville is accepting applications for its annual Charity Project Award.

The $30,000 grant will be awarded to an organization in the Duval County area that serves underprivileged or handicapped children and must be used for a capital improvement.

The deadline for submitting an application is July 15.

More than $1 million has been distributed to charity organizations through fundraising projects and the Meninak Charity Foundation.

For details, visit

$1,000 donation made for autistic artists

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s “Rainbow Artists: Art and Autism Across the Spectrum” program, designed for children with autism spectrum disorders, received more than $1,000 in donations through a private event hosted by psychologist and Jacksonville Beach resident Dorree Lynn.

Lynn, along with her husband, attorney Isaac Levy, displayed some of the work created by the children along with pieces from their personal art collection May 17 at the Riverplace Room.

The Rainbow Artists program is a series of educational initiatives that empower children with communication and social skills needs to be more self-expressive.

“Through my involvement in the Art in Seniors project in Washington, D.C., I’ve realized the communication medium offered through the arts, regardless of the age of the participants,” Lynn said.

Those who would like to donate to the Rainbow Artists Program may contact Laura Cruz at 366-6911, ext. 225.



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