Mal Washington Youth Foundation hits $5 million goal

The money will fund the group's new Teen Center, Club 904

By Justin Barney - Sports Editor

From left to right: USTA Florida board member Dana Andrews, MaliVai Washington and USTA Florida Section Foundation executive director Alexis Johnson. (Photo provided by Mal Washington Youth Foundation)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation has cleared its final financial hurdle to build its new Teen Center, Club 904.

The foundation crossed the $5 million finish line at its Champions for Children gala on Oct. 17. The group was $50,000 short of its funding goal before the gala before the USTA Florida Section Foundation covered that final margin. It raised an additional $30,000 to help support Club 904. 

The drive to raise the money began last October. 

"We are thrilled to have received such a generous gift," Washington said in a statement. "The unwavering support from the USTA Florida Section Foundation and this evening's generous $50,000 gift not only helped us pass our $5 million goal for our Club 904, but it will help us continue to serve hope and change the lives of thousands of youth for decades to come."

When complete, Club 904 will be more than 13,000 square feet and offer age-appropriate services that include college preparation, job support and academic assistance. It will be adjacent to the foundation's current Youth Center, which will continue to operate. The Teen Center will serve different ages of children in its mission. 

Washington was a finalist at Wimbledon in 1996, including a stunning rally to beat Todd Martin in the semifinals. Washington lost to Richard Krajicek in the final. When Washington's vision first began more than 20 years ago, he hoped to introduce the game to children from low-income families in Jacksonville's urban core.

That mission later evolved into more than just tennis to include things like after-school help and teaching children life skills. More than 20,000 children and families have been through the foundation's services since it began more than 22 years ago. 

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