In 1989, P.A.R.K.’s founder Keith Jackson had a vision from God about helping teenagers overcome the obstacles of violence and troubled lives. As Keith got older – eventually graduating from the University of Oklahoma and joining the National Football League – he developed his vision of creating a “place that will give kids hope, strong values, and confidence.”
In January, 1992, the former Tight End for the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers’ dream became a reality with the formation of the non-profit P.A.R.K., Inc. P.A.R.K. raised over $900,000 in pledges; $545,000 received in the form of foundation grants and individual and corporate donations. It was decided government money would not be a part of the vision.
August, 1995, P.A.R.K. Inc. purchased a 51, 000 – square foot building in southwest Little Rock to serve as the P.A.R.K. home. After the first phase of renovations, the building housed a tutoring center, a computer lab, a library, a women’s center, basketball & racquetball courts, a roller skating rink, a video arcade, and a weight room. In February, 1995, P.A.R.K. launched a pilot program for 25 at-risk 8th graders. In May, 2000, 8 of the original 25 students graduated from the program.
Since the beginning of the program, P.A.R.K. has made tremendous strides. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation of Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2001 awarded P.A.R.K. a grant in the amount of $5.2 million dollars for a complete renovation of the facility and new outside picnic area and park.
The Donald W. Reynolds P.A.R.K. Facility includes the many updated areas, as well as new areas such as a dining area with a commercial grade kitchen, a 42 seat state of the art movie theatre and a game room equipped with the latest video games, pool, foosball and air hockey tables.
In P.A.R.K.’s twenty-two years of working with children, the success of the program is evident by the accomplishments of the students receiving positive reinforcement. The statistics show what hard work and dedication on the part of P.A.R.K. and the student can do.
- 494 total PARK graduates to date
- 351 (71%) PARK students entered college
- 259 (74%) On PARK scholarship assistance
- 257 Total students currently in/entering college
- 86 College graduates
- 26 Military
- 8 Masters Degree graduates
- 1 Juris Doctorate