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Press Release for Monday, February 2, 2009

Donations Make Jacksonville Commitment Advisers Reality

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida announced today that several private and corporate donations have made it possible to hire high school-based college advisers to work at reaching students who might qualify for The Jacksonville Commitment program, a scholarship program unveiled last spring that makes a college education affordable and obtainable to Duval County Public School students from low-income families.

The long-term plan includes placing Jacksonville Commitment college advisers in 16 Duval County high schools. Donations and government funding have made it possible to hire five advisers, which have been placed at Raines, Ribault, Lee, Englewood and Terry Parker high schools.

“We are grateful to the individuals and corporate citizens who have accepted the challenge to make The Jacksonville Commitment successful,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “These donations play a critical step in the success of this incredible program that will yield big benefits for the community.”

A donation by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida was responsible for two of the college advisers, while private donations by Jack and Laura Allen as well as Wayne and Pat Hogan added one adviser each. Money confiscated as part of drug investigations by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office added the fifth adviser.

Jack Allen reflected the sentiments of donors who have contributed to the project. “I evaluate everything in life on the basis of return on investment. In my opinion, The Jacksonville Commitment will yield one of the highest returns on investment in the form of human capital that I could ever achieve.”

Wayne and Patricia Hogan echoed similar feelings about their decision to fund the counselors. “With the help of these advisers, students who might not have gone to college will now have real opportunities for academic achievement and success in the world of employment,” Wayne Hogan said. “This important advising service is crucial to the success of The Jacksonville Commitment, and we are happy to support it.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the major corporate donor, anticipates the program paying big dividends for Jacksonville. “As a longtime supporter of higher educational programming throughout the state, we are proud to do our part to help individuals in this program, as these individuals represent not only our future workforce, but the future leaders of our community,” said Cyrus M. Jollivette, BCBS senior vice president of public affairs.

The high school advisers are only part of the effort to reach Duval County high school students who qualify for the program. McNeil and Nat Glover, former Duval County Sheriff and current special assistant to UNF President John Delaney, have been meeting with community leaders to spread the word.

The first Jacksonville Commitment scholars enrolled at UNF last summer and currently, there are 39 Jacksonville Commitment scholars taking classes at the University. With the addition of the college advisers, the University expects to be able to reach substantially more high school students in 2009. An estimated 9,000 Duval County high school students are eligible for the program.

The Jacksonville Commitment brings together four area colleges and universities, the city of Jacksonville and the Duval County Public Schools. It guarantees a college education for Duval County Public School students who qualify financially and meet the admissions requirements of either Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, Jacksonville University or UNF.