Since being drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2009, Safety Malcolm Jenkins has felt a connection with the city of New Orleans. That connection has helped him develop The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation – an organization dedicated to positively impacting the lives of youth.
Jenkins started his foundation in 2010 and is focused on youth in underserved communities by providing resources, innovative opportunities and experiences that will help youth develop skills to succeed in life and become contributing members of the community.
"Giving back to the community is something that has been important to me since college," Jenkins said. "As a professional athlete, I have the opportunity to make a difference and be a positive role model."
Recently, the foundation hosted a Taste of New Orleans event at the Pavilion of Two Sisters in City Park. The event was the first for the foundation and was designed to celebrate the region's best food, paired with the nation's top wineries, all coordinated to raise awareness and funding support for* *R.E.W.A.R.D.S. programs, as well as supporting the recovery efforts of recreational play areas in St. Tammany and St. John the Baptist parishes damaged by Hurricane Isaac. Restaurants included Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Drago's, and Pigeon.
Project R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is dedicated to cultivating and creating service, education and character development programs and initiatives for area youth and teens. The Greater New Orleans Urban League College Track program is one of the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. program partners
One of the foundation's other initiatives, the Greater New Orleans Urban League College Track Program, awarded 10 scholarships last year. One of the recipients, Andrew Bloom, a freshman at UNO, received one of those scholarships.
"I would like to thank them for being there for me and helping me overcome obstacles," he said to the crowd. "I would like to thank Malcolm for the scholarship. At the time I received it, I didn't know what my plans for after high school were. The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation has given me the chance to focus solely on school by taking care of my tuition."
Looking ahead to the future, Jenkins hopes that the foundation can help youth across the city prepare for their life after high school and college.
"It gives us an opportunity to help students like Andrew and give them the opportunity that many of us weren't fortunate enough to have," Jenkins said. "We hope the initiatives from the foundation can support them and give them what they need for success in the future."
For more information, visit the foundation's website at http://themalcolmjenkinsfoundation.org/.