TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning, continuing its long-standing tradition of honoring those making local community contributions through the Community Heroes Program, presented by Jabil, at its games, has elected to donate $200,000 to local charities for each of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff rounds in which the team competes. For the first round of the playoffs, the organization, led by owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny, is honoring six local non-profits, all of which are working to promote and enhance local social justice initiatives.
The nonprofits, Abe Brown Ministries, The Florida Holocaust Museum, Men of Vision, Pinellas County Urban League, Safe & Sound Hillsborough and Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Fund, will receive their respective donations from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes Program, in recognition of their work in the social justice, economic equality and racial inequality spaces.
Abe Brown Ministries helps offenders, ex-offenders and their families achieve fulfilling lives by teaching life skills along with the value of gainful employment. The hero donation will go towards 'Bridging the Gap,' an event where voluntary participants who have been formerly incarcerated meet with law enforcement officers within an atmosphere conducive to an open, honest and respectful exchange of information, ideas and experiences.
The Florida Holocaust Museum is a leader in developing and delivering unique strategies empowering people to make positive change in the world. The Museum will be splitting its donation between the Law Enforcement & Society to assist in police training and a youth education program called 'Speak Up, Speak Now', that engages middle school students in discussions and activities that examine concepts such as identity, us and them, prejudice, stereotypes and propaganda.
Men of Vision is a mentorship organization created to expose young men to new ideas and opportunities and to encourage the practice of responsibility for their respective futures. Men of Vision has surpassed the state of Florida's high school graduation rate 10 years in a row with 98 percent of its members receiving standard high school diplomas. The donation from the Lightning Foundation will support the Digital Divide, purchasing laptops for students who need them, and otherwise wouldn't have access to them.
Pinellas County Urban League helps adults attain economic self-sufficiency through good jobs, home ownership, entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation, protecting civils rights by eradicating all barriers to equal participation in the economic and social mainstream of America. The hero donation will go towards the implementation of virtual workshops for PCUL young professionals on voter education, race relations and crime prevention.
Safe & Sound Hillsborough strives to unite the efforts of those involved in criminal justice, economic development, education, community building and health. This donation will support a youth mentoring and employment project within the East Tampa area, support the Evening Reporting Center in the 33610 zip code, fund expansion of the My Brother's Keeper Virtual Credit Recovery Program for minority high school males and assist efforts to build relationships between law enforcement and the community.
Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Fund was established as a non-profit in 1987 to serve businesses owned and operated by African American entrepreneurs, providing loans to a historically underserved market segment of the community, but now serves entrepreneurs of all ethnic backgrounds. This donation will support its CATCH Entrepreneurial Training Program, which is an intensive 15-week entrepreneurship training program for minority businesses.
Collectively, these social justice nonprofits become the 407th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Heroes program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to Tampa Bay area non-profits. That initial pledge has since been increased and extended. Through today's announcement, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $20.65 million to more than 750 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.