Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Greg Jennings knows he has been fortunate to work and succeed as a pro athlete. And for the last seven years, he has used his success to give back to others.
In 2008, the Vikings star founded the Greg Jennings Foundation to help kids in danger of giving up on their education.
“We began to see there was a need for youth to remain interested in school, and get educated so they could be the catalyst that would break the various cycles that they were growing up in,” says Jennings. “I wanted to use my platform as a professional athlete to motivate children to stay in school.”
Recently, Jennings and his wife, Nicole, created the Be Great Initiative through the foundation to keep kids in school. The program provides funding to various organizations throughout the Twin Cites area for school supplies and educational resources.
And the help has been greatly appreciated.
“With the assistance from the Greg Jennings Foundation, we are able to ensure that over 1,400 kindergarten through second grade Boys & Girls Club members have access to invaluable literary services,” says Erin Carlin, President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. “These services help club members build a firm foundation in reading while also teaching a love for lifelong learning.”
In order to raise money, the foundation hosts several fundraising events throughout the year, including the Greg Jennings Celebrity Golf Classic.
“My teammates help out with my annual golf fundraiser. They come out and golf with sponsors and raise money for our Be Great Initiative,” says Jennings.
This year’s Golf Classic takes place on June 22, in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
In addition to providing funds, the Jennings also take time to visit some of the grant recipients.
“Wow, did we have fun with Greg and Nicole Jennings on their visit!” says Deb McCullough, Director of Development at Hospitality House Youth Development. They played tag and dodgeball with the students, but, McCullough adds, “the perfect ending was Greg and Nicole inspiring and challenging our youth to ‘Be Great!’ We are grateful to have such wonderful support, from not only Greg and Nicole, but from the entire Jennings Foundation.”
The Jennings’ work isn’t limited to the Twin Cities. The Jennings Foundation also aids several groups in Wisconsin and Greg’s hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. For someone as blessed as Jennings, giving back on such a large scale is his duty.
"To whom much is given," Jennings says, "much is required."
To learn more about the Greg Jennings Foundation and its Be Great Initiative, visit gjenningsfound.org.
Photo: Greg Jennings Foundation