First Generation Program gets $1 million boost

First Generation

Two gifts to The Power of Transformation campaign will eventually result in an infusion of more than $1 million to the First Generation Scholarship program.

The gifts of $250,000 from both EverBank and THE PLAYERS Championship were announced recently at the annual First Generation luncheon on campus. Eventually, they will generate an additional $500,000 in state matching funds resulting in a total of $1 million flowing into the program over the five-year commitment for both gifts. The money will fund scholarships for students who are the first in their families to go to college.

The First Generation Scholarship Program has provided assistance to more than 750 students to attend UNF.

The EverBank gift carries with it a preference to fund scholarships for students enrolled at The Bridge of Northeast Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of at-risk children.

“The First Generation Scholarship program perfectly aligns with EverBank’s community outreach philosophy,” said Blake Wilson, president and CFO of EverBank Financial Corp. “It addresses a critical concern in our community by providing much-needed assistance to motivate young people who otherwise might not have had an opportunity to attend college.”

Wilson sits on the boards of the UNF Foundation and The Bridge and was able to bring the two organizations together. “We see both programs as a natural fit for each other. As young people move through The Bridge, we want to give them the added incentive to get a higher education. This is a tremendous opportunity to help break the generations of poverty and develop new leadership within the community,” he said.

Pierre Allaire, vice president for Institutional Advancement, said EverBank’s commitment to the First Generation Scholarship program demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to benefit the community. “The corporate citizenship exhibited by EverBank is remarkable,” he said. “This commitment is a major step in The Power of Transformation campaign and ultimately in our ability to transform the lives of our students.”

EverBank Financial Corp., and its EverBank subsidiaries, is a privately held thrift holding company headquartered in Jacksonville offering banking, lending, leasing and investment products.

The gift by THE PLAYERS Championship is the latest in a series of philanthropic initiatives that have benefited UNF. “Over the years, THE PLAYERS Championship has demonstrated a commitment to education in general and UNF in particular which will pay dividends for generations of our students,” Allaire noted.

Jay Monahan, executive director of THE PLAYERS Championship, said the scholarship donation presents an opportunity to change lives. “The scholarship gives first generation students an opportunity for a world-class education while also giving us an opportunity to have a significant impact on the community since so many UNF graduates remain in the area to pursue careers.”

Monahan said the First Generation Scholarship program is a natural investment for THE PLAYERS because of the ever-growing relationship with UNF’s students and its graduates. “UNF is part of the bedrock of this community and its students and alumni are an important part of THE PLAYERS,” he said. “UNF graduates, today and in the future, comprise spectators who attend the annual tournament, leading business executives who are sponsors and the volunteers who make the event and our charitable outcome a reality each year.”

In addition to the First Generation Scholarship program, THE PLAYERS assisted in the establishment of the Osprey Hall of Fame, which entailed substantial renovations at the UNF Arena. The organization has also been involved in funding the First Tee program at the Hayt Golf Learning Center on campus. The donation to the First Generation Program means THE PLAYERS has donated more than $1 million to UNF, making it a member of the University’s elite Founders Society. With THE PLAYERS Championship most recent gift, UNF has named the organization as the title sponsor for the annual scholarship luncheon, beginning in 2011.

Proceeds from THE PLAYERS Championship benefit Northeast Florida charities. Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS Championship moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, more than $35 million has been contributed to Northeast Florida charities, including a record $4.15 million donation in 2009.

The Power of Transformation campaign is a multi-year endeavor to raise $110 million to enhance the quality of education at UNF with a primary focus on raising additional funds for scholarship assistance. To date, the campaign has raised $69 million.