MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation marks 25th anniversary

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The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation (MWYF) is celebrating 25 years of serving hope and changing lives in Jacksonville’s urban core, an area with the highest rates of crime, poverty, high school dropouts and teen pregnancy in the Duval County.

In 1996, pro tennis player, Olympian and Wimbledon finalist, MaliVai Washington, founded MWYF to introduce tennis to low-income, at-risk children at clinics and events. Under the leadership of founding Executive Director Terri Florio, it has grown to become a comprehensive afterschool and summer youth development program serving youth from kindergarten through high school graduation and beyond.

In 2008, MWYF opened its youth center, which now houses all elementary programs, after raising more than $3.8 million. In 2020, the foundation opened a teen center, Club 904, after raising more than $5.5 million. This new center serves middle and high school students and fills a need in the community for programs specifically for teens.

Over the past 25 years, the foundation has served thousands of children through outreach programs, tennis clinics, summer camps and afterschool programs and awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships to their members for higher education. Among students who have completed their afterschool program, none have become teen parents and 100% have graduated from high school on time.

“This isn’t something I’ve done alone, this has been a true collective, community effort and that is why we are in our 25th year,” said Washington. “I want to say how grateful I am for all of that support. Going forward, we are going to continue to try to be worthy of our supporters’ time and effort and treasure that they are trusting in the foundation.”

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