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Turn 2 Foundation, WMU launch youth partnership

April 16, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation will relocate its Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders Program to the Western Michigan University campus in a move expected to be the first step in a long-term partnership with WMU to increase leadership and college readiness opportunities for area youth.

The Foundation, which has its headquarters in New York City, will move its Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders Program offices to WMU's Ellsworth Hall under terms of a three-year lease that began April 1. The lease agreement also provides the Foundation with space on campus to hold regular meetings for youth involved in its programs. The move will pave the way for additional programmatic work between Turn 2 and the University that will utilize the resources of both organizations.

The Turn 2 Foundation offers programming to youth in West Michigan, the New York City metropolitan area and the Tampa/St. Petersburg Area. The Jeter's Leaders program is designed to promote healthy lifestyles, academic achievement and social change activism among high school students. Once the move is completed, the office will be known as Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders at Western Michigan University.

"I am excited about this partnership because growing up in Kalamazoo, I have a special affinity for Western Michigan University," said Derek Jeter, founder of the Turn 2 Foundation. "This partnership allows a special group of high school students in my leadership program the opportunity to enhance their academic careers, leadership skills and interact with great student and adult role models and mentors."

WMU officials say the partnership is one that has enormous potential for current and prospective students.

"Early in the discussions, it became clear to us that the Turn 2 Foundation's mission is in perfect harmony with the outreach work of several units on our campus, particularly our Lee Honors College and Division of Multicultural Affairs," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "We have programs that focus on high school students and have WMU students serving as mentors and role models for younger students who want to develop good study skills and effective research and presentation skills. There is potential here for both organizations' work to be dramatically enhanced."

Jeter, a New York Yankee captain and star shortstop, founded the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996, taking the name "Turn 2" to symbolize the dramatic double plays made by infielders during a game as well as Jeter's desire for the organization that could help students "turn to" healthy lifestyles and avoid drugs and alcohol. Since its inception, Turn 2 has awarded more than $8 million for youth service programs that include after-school opportunities, baseball clinics, summer camps, endowed scholarships and the Jeter's Leaders program.

The Jeter's Leaders Program recognizes students for their academic achievements, extracurricular activities and community service. Leaders are responsible for delivering a positive message to their peers and focusing on living drug- and alcohol-free lives. Members of Jeter's Leaders are encouraged to become change agents in their communities.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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