Jeter sponsors new program for teenagers

The Yankee plans additional giving locally.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 29, 2008

Derek Jeter makes his living in New York, but he calls Tampa home. And the Yankees star is stepping up efforts to make things better around his hometown.

The signature contribution will be official next month, with the ceremonial announcement of the Derek Jeter Academy at Phoenix House, an outpatient program to help troubled teens and their families with drug abuse problems. Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation donated $500,000 to the project.

In April, the foundation will partner with the Tampa Recreation Department and the Yankees to stage clinics for youths at Legends Field, an expansion of a program done previously in his native Kalamazoo, Mich., and New York.

And the foundation is forming a Tampa chapter of Girls on the Run, which helps preteen girls develop self respect and healthy lifestyles through running.

"We've grown a lot the last few years here in Tampa, and hopefully we can continue to do a lot more," Jeter said Monday during his annual charity golf event at Avila, which this year drew actor Morgan Freeman, former NBA great Michael Jordan and assorted sports stars.

The foundation has awarded more than $8-million to youth programs during its 12 years, and more than $1-million has gone to Tampa Bay area groups, said Jeter's father, Charles, who directs the foundation.

The Phoenix House project will be the most visible, though Derek Jeter said the foundation was hoping to do more by helping with a residential facility but couldn't find a site.

And Jeter said he wants to contribute more than money.

"The reason I started this foundation is that I wanted to be involved," Jeter said. "I want to be hands-on. I want to have the opportunity to meet kids, hear what they have to say, see how well the foundation has been doing, what it means to them. And more importantly, get an opportunity to talk to the parents. This has been a lot of fun for us. It's been a learning process, we've learned a lot over the 12 years, but it seems that we just continue to grow and get better."