Ignite Young Professionals Group by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund 

Igniting Philanthropic Power from the Next Generation

Nearly three out of four millennials donated to a nonprofit in the last year. In fact, millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history, most often described as tech-savvy, connected, curious, passionate, collaborative and diverse.

Be the match to ignite the next generation leaders in education! Help us involve people in education through training, support and access while networking in a social environment. Contact Veronica Session-Fennell at veronica@jaxpef.org to learn more.

About the Young Professionals Affinity Group

This spring, JPEF will launch and ignite the next generation of leaders and philanthropists to harness the power of the community, engage in creative problem solving and equip public school students in Duval County with the skills to succeed. The affinity group will engage young professionals ranging from ages 21-40 who are passionate about education and eager to advocate for improvement in Jacksonville.

Benefits of becoming a member of the affinity group include:

  • Discounted tickets at events such as EDTalks, donor recognition, and professional learning opportunities.
  • Members will have opportunities to participate in design thinking workshops, special events, fundraisers, volunteer initiatives and gain a new network of like-minded people.
  • Members will have the opportunity to apply to participate on various JPEF board and initiative committees.

What makes this opportunity unique?

This unique experience will ignite the creativity of young professionals to come up with new ways of looking at challenges facing our public schools and students, then develop fresh ideas to solve them. Design-thinking is a human-centered approach that requires empathy and collaboration. Participants will grow these skills as leaders while they provide solutions to make our public schools stronger.

JPEF will host three workshops annually to support participants through the five stages of design thinking. Then participants can work independently or together to further develop their solutions and pitch them to be adopted and implemented in our public schools.

The Five Stages of Design Thinking

  • Stage 1: Empathize—Research Users' Needs
    • JPEF provides research to deepen understanding of educational issues and supports participants to activate their own background knowledge and experience.
  • Stage 2: Define—State Users' Needs and Problems
    • Participants demonstrate their understanding of the challenges and local needs.
  • Stage 3: Ideate—Challenge Assumptions and Create Ideas
    • Participants brainstorm potential solutions.
  • Stage 4: Prototype—Start to Create Solutions
    • Participants choose and build upon the most promising solutions.
  • Stage 5: Test—Try Your Solutions Out
    • Participants test their ideas and pitch them for potential adoption.
    • Supporters, educators and volunteers determine and select the most viable idea to          
      implement and learn from.


Workshops:The unique and impactful workshops will feature design thinking methodology. This experience will include national experts and/or trainers on the five stages of design thinking, and local prominent community leaders as guest speakers. JPEF will also provide tools, materials and resources to equip members in developing and refining their ideas as they prepare for the pitch event.

  • A behind the scenes experience will link young professionals with leading prominent figures in the Jacksonville area who are advocates for education.
  • Each interested young professional will have the opportunity to attend an up close and personal session proceeding workshops.
  • Featured leaders will share career advice and valuable insight into how they contribute to high quality education in our community and debrief the workshop topic.

Socials: The program will include fun socials where members can connect with new colleagues or meet with mentors meetings with education advocates who are  a part of JPEF’s support team, board of directors, or the school board/district.

The annual EDPitch: EDPitch will be a significant and culminating celebration of the young professionals’ learning and leadership experience. Proposals will focus on strategies and ideas to help close the opportunity gap between low-income students, students of color, and other marginalized groups and their peers. Participants will create a proposal and presentation for the competition with their ideas evaluated by the panel of judges, who will receive evaluation training and judging materials from JPEF prior to the pitch.


To join the group, young professionals will contribute at least $150 to JPEF annually. The funds generated will power JPEF’s work and go back towards our mission of sparking innovation, relationships and resources to ensure all students in Duval County receive an excellent education.

Ready to take the next step? 

Join now


Contact Veronica Session-Fennell at veronica@jaxpef.org to learn more.


Upcoming Event

Applications Due for the Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship

  • Date: Sunday, Feb 21, 2021
  • Time: 11:59PM to 11:59PM
  • Where: Online Application
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2020 Annual Report

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of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2018-2019.