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Published on November 13, 2015

Bank of America foundation spreads Friday the 13th grant joy to Jacksonville nonprofits

By Beth Reese Cravey, Florida Times-Union

The day was Friday the 13th and the $20,000 check was the oversize cardboard variety not good at any financial institution.

But the Bank of America Charitable Foundation grant it symbolized was real, so when Lelia Duncan got her hands on it she danced for joy outside Community Connections of Jacksonville, the social services nonprofit she heads.

“This is a big deal for us,” she said.

Community Connections was the first stop in a daylong grant-presentation tour by Bank of America executives who distributed a total of $127,750 to 13 nonprofits that provide basic services, such as food, shelter and medical care.

Other nonprofits receiving grants of varying amounts were Hubbard House, United Way of Northeast Florida, Sulzbacher Center for the homeless, Feeding Northeast Florida, Clara White Mission, Downtown Ecumenical Services Council, St. Vincent’s Foundation, Daniel Memorial, 5 STAR Veterans Center, Aging True, Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry and Jewish Family & Community Services.

The bank purposely scheduled the tour on Friday the 13th to spread joy on what is perceived to be an unlucky day, said spokesman Mike Boslet.

At Community Connections, the grant will be used to help 200 families and provide 2,000 meals at the nonprofit’s Davis Center, an emergency housing site, as well as support programming for 300 children and youth, Duncan said. People come to the Davis Center following stints at homeless shelters and can stay there up to 15 months, as they receive employment and other services from Community Connections and other agencies.

About 94 percent of the nonprofit’s clients remain employed and in stable housing a year after leaving, she said.

That track record helped the nonprofit, which was launched in 1911 as the YWCA, in the foundation’s grant application and review process, said Martha Barrett, Jacksonville-based Bank of America vice president for market development.

“Community Connections does what they say they’re going to do,” she said, providing human services that government and business cannot afford. “Without nonprofits, there would be chaos. We depend on nonprofits to do the work we need to do for our needy citizens.”

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