Community First Cares Foundation Awards Innovation Grants to Educators


JACKSONVILLE, Fla., October 13, 2015 – The Community First Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of Community First Credit Union, announces the recipients of 10 PowerUP Jax innovation grants to public school teachers in Duval County. Each recipient will receive a $500 grant to support their in-class projects. A volunteer committee awarded the grants based on project proposals that were based on creativity and prioritized hands-on learning experiences to raise student achievement. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund administers the awards.

On Tuesday, three of the teachers were surprised in their classrooms filled with students with a “prize patrol” to receive the awards. The patrol included Missy Peters, executive director of the Community First Cares Foundation and Trey Csar, president of Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

“We are happy to continue our support of powerful and creative innovation in education,” said Peters. “PowerUp Jax has been such a popular way for the community to engage in these experiential learning opportunities. These 10 teachers are living the mission of improvement to learning and young lives – things our foundation is passionate about.”

The grant winners are:

Misty Allen, John N.C. Stockton Elementary School

Cheryl Clavon, Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center

Thuvan DeBellis, Oceanway Elementary School

Kelly DeSousa, Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center

Gayle Fiser, Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School

Mai Keisling, Paxon School for Advanced Studies

Riley Krotz, Duncan U. Fletcher Middle School

Kelly Lewis, Duval Charter School at Baymeadows

Jennifer Norton, John N.C. Stockton Elementary School

Terry Woodlief, Central Riverside Elementary School

Starting Wednesday, October 14, members of the public will have a chance to read more about the projects on Facebook and vote for one of them to receive a bonus award of $150 in a Lightning Round. Go to to vote and learn more.

“I’m proud of this continued partnership and thrilled about the quality of the applications submitted,” Csar said. “We received 46 proposals and I know it was difficult for the committee to choose just 10.”

All grant winners will go on to compete for the $1,000 Community First Innovation Prize, which is presented at the 2016 EDDY Awards Gala and Ceremony planned for Saturday, March 12, 2016. Applications for the PowerUP Jax spring cycle will be available later this fall on November 19 and an additional 10 winners will be selected in February.

Community First Cares Foundation is the lead funder and sponsor of PowerUP Jax, which was launched in October 2013 by JPEF. Since its inception, 82 innovative projects have been fully funded to make an impact in the lives of local students from STEM, English/language arts, mathematics, art and music education. Over the summer, PowerUP Jax was converted from a crowdfunding site to a competitive grants process to fund innovative projects to raise student achievement. PowerUP Jax and the EDDY Awards are part of a larger strategy for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to elevate and celebrate Jacksonville’s best teachers.

The Community First Cares Foundation is the only non-profit foundation lead by a credit union in the region and one of only a few in Florida. Its mission is to help improve the quality of life in North Florida by supporting activities to improve financial literacy, quality of education, health and welfare and help the underserved.


The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent nonprofit organization that works to inform and mobilize the community to advocate for universally high-quality public schools for all children. For more information, visit or call (904) 356-7757.

The Community First Cares Foundation, founded by Community First Credit Union, is a non-profit community foundation that grants funds to improve the quality of life in North Florida. The foundation supports activities to improve financial literacy, enhance the quality of our educational system, upgrade the health and welfare of our community and help underserved citizens. The Community First Cares Foundation makes contributions to non-profit organizations that serve the communities on the First Coast. For more information, visit or call 904. 371.8090. For more information about Community First Credit Union, visit or call 904- 354-8537.









of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.