Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charity Foundation Reconsiders Funding for New Town Zone; Chartrand Leaders Want a Strategic Business Plan in Place before Promising More Aid

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charity Foundation Reconsiders Funding for New Town Zone; Chartrand Leaders Want a Strategic Business Plan in Place before Promising More Aid

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

The largest private contributor to an initiative to help children and families in Jacksonville's New Town area said its future support could be up in the air if a plan isn't developed.

The Chartrand Foundation will still contribute $250,000 to the New Town Success Zone's programs this upcoming year, but from then on it will scale back its "investments in all initiatives that lack a comprehensive strategic plan," wrote Jeff Chartrand, the foundation's executive director, in a letter to leaders and partners of the New Town Success Zone.

Last year, the foundation gave $500,000.

The Success Zone is a two-year-old project inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, which uses a conveyer-belt system of programs to help children living in a 97-block area go from the "cradle to college."

The Jacksonville Children's Commission, funded with city tax dollars, gave $740,000 to the Northwest Jacksonville project in partnership with other private and public agencies.

Linda Lanier, the commission's executive director, said a strategic plan hasn't been developed because all the necessary pieces aren't in place. New Town was selected in February 2008.

"It took over a year to even figure out what neighborhood we were going to invite to be part of the project," she said.

ORGANIZING LEADERSHIP

Lanier said the rest of the time has been used to develop partner agencies and committees. Out of six subcommittees, two still need leadership, Lanier said.

She didn't have a target date for a plan's completion but said the group would begin developing a plan this fall during a retreat.

Chartrand and his sister, Meredith Chartrand Frisch, a foundation trustee, have also resigned from leadership roles with the project's steering committee.

"We have stepped out of our leadership roles in order to be in a place of discernment where we can objectively evaluate and respond to all grant-making opportunities," Chartrand said, reading a statement. …

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