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Scholarship tees up first-generation students for success


Jacob Bryant likes challenges. Left-brain challenges, right-brain challenges. It doesn’t matter.


At the University of North Florida, he has found both types of challenges thanks in part to THE PLAYERS Championship First Generation Scholarship.


Bryant, a graduate of Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, is majoring in chemistry with a career goal of becoming a pharmacist. He finds the classes challenging to his left brain but still exercises the right half by playing in Jazz Ensemble II. He pursues these passions while also working 20 hours a week at a local grocery store.


“I manage to find a way to get it all done,” he said.


It’s an exciting time in his life, and he admits it wouldn’t be possible without THE PLAYERS Championship scholarship as part of a financial package arranged for him by UNF. Bryant had an opportunity recently to meet the Red Coats, a committee of past chairmen of THE PLAYERS Championship during a luncheon at UNF.


“They are a wonderful group of individuals who are doing great things in the community,” he said.


THE PLAYERS Championship has maintained a strong relationship with UNF, especially with regard to the First Generation Program. Last year, the organization announced a $250,000 pledge to the First Generation Scholarship program. THE PLAYERS announced an additional $500,000 commitment from the Red Coats to the program this year, creating a $750,000 endowment at UNF.


Brandon McCray, assistant vice president of Institutional Advancement, praised THE PLAYERS Championship for its commitment to education.


“The First Generation Program is a wonderful way to bolster scholarships because of the state match,” he said.


All contributions to the First Generation Scholarship program are matched dollar-for-dollar by the state.


THE PLAYERS’ support of UNF has gone far beyond just scholarships. It has also been integral to the establishment of the Osprey Athletics Hall of Fame, which entailed substantial renovations at the UNF Arena. THE PLAYERS has also funded The First Tee program at the Hayt Golf Learning Center, which provides young people with learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development through the game of golf.


The UNF commitment is part of a large-scale emphasis on youth and education by THE PLAYERS Championship. The tournament’s goal is to generate $50 million for local youth-related charities throughout the next 10 years. THE PLAYERS has generated about $27 million for charity during the past decade, $15 million of which has benefited youth-related organizations. Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, more than $40 million has been generated for Northeast Florida charities, including a record $4.8 million in 2010.