Jacksonville, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2023) – The First Coast Relief Fund announced today it has raised more than $1 million to address hate and systemic racial inequities across our region following the racially motivated shooting that took the lives of three victims on Aug. 26 in New Town. Additionally, the Together Strong Community Fund, which has partnered in this effort, has challenged the community to match their gift of $250,000 by the end of the month.
In addition to the contributions from the Together Strong Community Fund, the dollars raised include generous gifts from corporations and individual donors such as Bank of America, CSX, Dollar General, Fifth Third Bank, Florida Blue, the Furyk Foundation, Itel Laboratories Inc., the Jacksonville Jaguars, Anne and Bob Lufrano, the NFL Foundation, the PLAYERS, PNC, Regency Centers, Telescope Health, Carol and Joe Thompson, VyStar Foundation and Kimmie Winston. These Relief Fund supporters were collectively recognized during the Jaguars game at EverBank Field on Sunday.
“We are incredibly grateful to corporations and individuals in our community who have stepped up to be part of the change,” said Melanie Patz, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida, a partner in the Relief Fund. “This is a strong start to our community’s response and a clear indication that hate will not be tolerated in Northeast Florida.”
The Relief Fund, Northeast Florida’s community crisis response partnership, is a collaboration among the region’s largest funders, designed to maximize the impact of tax-deductible donations to support the local community when a crisis sparks an outpouring of generosity from local and national donors. Founding partners in the Relief Fund include The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County.
“Hate and racial violence against any group has an impact on everyone in our community,” said Mariam Feist, president of the Jewish Federation & Foundation. “We want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the donors who have joined this cause.”
As we approach the one-month mark after the shooting, The Together Strong Community Fund has made a matching gift of $250,000 through the end of the month. Founded by David Miller on behalf of the Miller Families under the management of the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida, the Together Strong Community Fund was formed to advance community-wide conversation and education following the display of hate speech in downtown Jacksonville in 2022.
“To overcome the threats of hate and racial violence, we need everyone in our community to stand together,” said David Miller. “We challenge others in the community to stand with us and with our neighbors who are most affected.”
Grants will be made through a committee of local leaders that includes representation from the partners as well as communities impacted and local experts on the issues of healing from trauma and racial equity. The process will also include best practices learned from the philanthropic response to racially motivated violence in cities such as Charlottesville, Virginia, and Buffalo, New York.
“Racialized violence is not new to our country or to Jacksonville,” said Isaiah M. Oliver, president of The Community Foundation. “Other communities have been through crises like this before, and they have found innovative ways to put generosity to work toward long-term, transformative change. That’s what this moment calls us to do here, and we are grateful to our fundholders and all of the donors who are joining our efforts.”
Originally conceptualized following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the Relief Fund has distributed nearly $9 million through 251 grants to 128 unique organizations since its inception in 2016. Response efforts to date include Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
A complete list of donors is available at firstcoastrelieffund.org. The Relief Fund is committed to sharing grant application information with the public via its website as that phase of the response begins later this year.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FIRST COAST RELIEF FUND
Text: HEALINGJAX to 50503
By check: Pay to the order of First Coast Relief Fund and mail to: First Coast Relief Fund, 40 E. Adams St., Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Please note “Healing Jax” in the memo of the check.
HOW TO ACCESS FREE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support via phone for people in distress, including resources for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals. Dial 9-8-8 on your phone, or visit unitedwaynefl.org/988.
United Way 211 is a free information and referral hotline available 24 hours, seven days a week to connect callers to emergency resources, including crisis response efforts.
The Fund is also monitoring the tropics and is poised to support hurricane relief, when and if needed.
About United Way of Northeast Florida
Founded in 1924, United Way of Northeast Florida has earned a reputation as a respected and efficient philanthropic organization. United Way envisions a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can reach their full potential. The organization’s mission is to solve Northeast Florida’s toughest challenges by connecting people, resources and ideas. United Way focuses on improving economic mobility in the following impact areas: basic needs, financial well-being and racial equity. The nonprofit organization’s long tradition of addressing the human-service needs in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties is made possible through the commitment of thousands of volunteers, donors and community partners. To learn more, visit unitedwaynefl.org, or follow United Way of Northeast Florida on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
About United Way of St. Johns County
United Way-SJC fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in St. Johns County. For 60 years, this has been done by strategically investing in quality programs, building partnerships, advocating for better policies, engaging the community and leveraging resources to focus on community problems that matter most. Success is measured not by dollars raised, but by lives improved and changed. www.unitedway-sjc.org
About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 58th year, the Foundation has assets of $630 million and has made nearly $640 million in grants since 1964. For more information: www.jaxcf.org.
About the Jessie Ball duPont Fund
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a private foundation that works to expand access to opportunity and create inclusive growth for the people, organizations and communities that Jessie Ball duPont knew and loved. We envision a world in which every member of those communities feels they belong, and is engaged in shaping the future of their community. We use our grantmaking, investments, research and partnerships to increase equitable access to opportunities and resources for members of society who have historically been excluded, and placemaking to build stronger communities where all voices are heard and valued. Learn more at www.dupontfund.org.
About the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida
The Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida mobilizes volunteer and financial resources to inspire engagement in Jewish life and assure a Jewish future in the local community, Israel, and around the world. Through the support of an annual campaign and Foundation, Federation helps to support members of our community by
providing for health, education and welfare, and ensuring the dignity of life. For more information, visit jewishjacksonville.org.
About the Miller Families, Founders of the Together Strong Community Foundation
The Miller Families’ mission is to create positive change in the communities we touch by fostering innovation, collaboration, and measurable impact by leveraging resources and using Jewish values as our guide. Their vision is for our community to be an inclusive place of hope where all individuals have the opportunity to reach their personal potential in a just and equitable society.
United Way of Northeast Florida
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
Stephanie Garry Garfunkel
VP, Strategic Communications
Jessie Ball duPont Fund
Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida