City of Orlando

DeVos Family Foundation Grant Helps Local Children Reimagine John H. Jackson Neighborhood Center

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

ORLANDO – With nearly 150 parks, gardens, recreation areas, neighborhood centers, and playgrounds within its radius, Orlando certainly lives up to its nickname of the City Beautiful.

Each of these locations spread throughout the city assist in providing Central Florida children with unique recreational opportunities.

For kids residing in the Parramore District of Orlando, the John H. Jackson Neighborhood Center fits that bill.

Equipped with basketball courts, a fitness center, futsal court, kitchen, playground, softball field, swimming pool, and tennis courts, the center features an expansive list of health and wellness offerings. In addition, its computer lab, game room, multi-purpose room, recording studio, and virtual game room provide residents with a number of educational and entertainment resources.

Now, as a result of a $150,000 donation from the DeVos Family Foundation through its 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, the John H. Jackson Neighborhood Center will be able to revitalize its playground – originally built with the Orlando Magic as part of a KABOOM! project in 2009 – to even further expand its community-driven portfolio to neighbors.

“That’s what the DeVos commitment has done throughout Central Florida. They came, put their stake in the ground, and they keep expanding and making this a better place for all,” said Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill.

What makes the project even more special is that residents have led the ideation for additions to the center. Approximately 30 local children from various age groups were able to look through project options and voice their opinion on what additions would be most meaningful.

“When a child feels like they have a say or can help design a project that’s built for them, they seem to take care of it a whole lot more,” Hill shared. “To give these children an opportunity to tell us what they like and what’s best for them, and then to implement it, I think it’s going to be a dream come true when we bring it to fruition.”

As a lifelong Parramore resident, this impact hits close to home for Hill, explaining, “When we start talking about legacy building, when we start talking about the trickle-down effect in a positive manner and major impact, that’s what’s happening because of the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family Foundation. Not just building buildings and building teams but building communities and (supporting) the people that live (here).”

As part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over 18 months, investing in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida. 

The late Rich DeVos, who bought the Magic in 1991, was often referred to as a chief cheerleader, emanating his compassion for others. That mantra is shared by his entire family, who now continue his legacy with the same philanthropic mindset.  

“That was my father. When we first got involved with the team and acquired the franchise, that’s the one thing he said: ‘Don’t call us owners. We’re not owners. We’re caretakers,’” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos explained. “The real stakeholders are the fans and community of Central Florida.”