ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As a new NFL season gets underway, Tampa Bay is still benefiting from last season and the Forever 55 campaign.
That was the NFL’s commitment to the Tampa Bay region when it hosted the Super Bowl 55 earlier this year. The league gave dozens of local organizations microgrants – money to help make Tampa Bay a better place.
About nine months ago, one of those organizations, the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation in St. Petersburg, got word from the NFL that the nonprofit dedicated to battling illiteracy would be receiving a microgrant from Forever 55.
“I was really, really thrilled to hear that,” said Dr. Katurah Jenkins Hall, SPPF’s academic leader.
The NFL chose SPPF at a time when the city of St. Petersburg was seeing an escalation in violent crime, specifically involving young people.
Couple that with the stresses of civil unrest and a pandemic, and their hope was to lift up an organization dedicated to keeping kids on the right path.
“We were paying a lot of attention to adults during that time, but not a lot of attention to children. To the children,” Jenkins Hall said.
In the months since receiving the grant from the Forever 55 campaign, SPPF has used the money to provide free counseling to 16 families.
“Kids in this community don’t often receive counseling,” Jenkins Hall said. “It’s not affordable. It’s not available. It’s not convenient.”
Keisha Pittman Snead is one of those parents able to benefit from the Forever 55 grant.
“This has been a life-changer,” she said. “It could’ve really been bad.”
The stresses of a divorce had strained Pittman Snead’s relationship with her teenage daughter. Communication was breaking down. She worried about her daughter falling in with the wrong crowd.
The counseling, she said, got them back on track.
“Just a think it’s something like the Super Bowl, that has not only been here and gone, but it’s still, we are still seeing the fruits of the labor. It’s been amazing,” she said.
In all, 28 local organizations received a total of $280,000 worth of microgrants from the Forever 55 campaign that helped to plant seeds of hope and create a legacy that continues to benefit our community.
Those micro-grants are part of a $2 million overall investment made by the NFL and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee as part of the Forever 55 campaign.
“We are thankful for the NFL,” said Dr. Jenkins Hall, “And their vision also, in making this intervention and program available to kids that we believe will impact them for the rest of their lives.”