PAL and UNF Partner to Increase Minority Education and Access

Teens with the JaxPAL Teen Leadership Program get introduced to STEM careers and robotics during a tour of the University of North Florida campus, launching the new OspreyPAL program. Photos by Katerina Turner

OspreyPAL2The University of North Florida and the Police Athletic League of Jacksonville have entered a partnership to engage Jacksonville youth and put them on an academic pathway through the JaxPAL Teen Leadership Program with the establishment of the OspreyPAL program on the UNF campus.

OspreyPAL will provide JaxPAL youth in grades 6 through 12 with leadership, social and professional skills needed for the transition to adulthood as well as preparation for college and eventually the workforce.

“We’re thrilled and honored to partner with UNF for the OspreyPAL program. This program not only removes barriers that our JaxPAL teens face but also provides support for their next steps toward college and adulthood,” said Lt. Lakesha Burton, Police Athletic League of Jacksonville executive director. “It’s extremely gratifying to gain a community partner like UNF, positively impacting teens as well as developing them into the next generation of leaders in the community.”

Through OspreyPAL, UNF will facilitate opportunities for JaxPAL teens to experience college through immersive campus tours, academic engagement and participation in University activities throughout the year; provide these teens with ACT/SAT preparation courses; develop writing, public speaking and computer skills; provide faculty presenters at local JaxPAL teen meetings; and offer personalized cost of education advising to teens and their guardians.

JaxPAL teens who meet UNF admission and scholarship requirements will be eligible for an OspreyPAL Scholarship award. Four JaxPAL youth will be identified annually and awarded $4,000 per year for up to $16,000. These four-year renewable scholarships are designed to help students complete their degree at UNF and develop future community leaders.

“UNF feels our partnership with OspreyPAL is an outstanding way for students in Duval County to connect with the University and build both a solid academic and social foundation,” Students who go through the program develop skills in and out of the classroom that will serve them for the rest of their lives,” said Albert Colom, UNF associate vice president for Enrollment Services.

In order for OspreyPAL scholarship recipients to retain their award, they must maintain continuous enrollment at UNF, remain eligible for need-based financial aid, meet renewal criteria, serve as a JaxPAL teen program mentor and serve as an ambassador for UNF and JaxPAL.

The Police Athletic League of Jacksonville, Inc. (JaxPAL) is a 501(c)(3) youth-serving organization that provides afterschool, summer camp, athletic, teen leadership and mentoring programs to more than 2,400 youth annually. JaxPAL is unique among youth development programs because it builds respect, trust and friendship between youth and law enforcement officers through its strong, collaborative relationship with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. To learn more about JaxPAL, visit

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