Active Investment

hand holding light bulb glowing with sparkling light and illuminated education symbols glowing around it

How a more personal approach to philanthropy is yielding priceless returns

There is one asset everyone possesses that is more precious than any other, and that is our time – the hours, days, months and years that make up a lifetime.

When it’s gone, it’s gone. You cannot create or buy more time, yet it is too often wasted. How one invests their time reveals a great deal about their values, and can yield immeasurable returns.

Jennifer Glock and her husband, Michael Ward, know this principle well. They’ve generously given millions of dollars to organizations throughout Jacksonville, both individually and through the Michael Ward and Jennifer Glock Foundation.

Ward, the retired CEO of Jacksonville-based CSX, is the founder of City Year Jacksonville, a non-profit serving in K-12 schools to help students develop academic, social and emotional skills for success. He and Glock also give generously to One Love, Hubbard House, Jacksonville Arts & Music School (JAMS), Edward Waters College, Jacksonville University (JU) and University of North Florida (UNF). Their main focus is education.

Jennifer Glock and Michael Ward
Jennifer Glock and Michael Ward

“Education is the best gift you can give anybody,” Ward said during an interview at the foundation’s San Marco office. “It more directly helps individuals than something like a new building.”

And for Ward and Glock, investing in education means more than just writing checks. They were drawn to a customized scholarship program for students at JU.

In these programs, donors fund scholarships for a number of students, then engage in the process of selecting and mentoring those students all the way through graduation. It’s a unique form of active philanthropy in which donors have the opportunity to get to know students personally and help enrich their overall experience.

JU President Tim Cost and First Lady Stephanie Cost used this model to shape their scholarship program, Cost Scholars. They regularly host students at their Ponte Vedra home for family-style meals, organize fun activities on campus and throughout Jacksonville, and develop strong bonds with the students. They steward their own investment through one-on-one relationships and watch the returns grow.

Michael Ward and Jennifer Glock with Stephanie Cost
Michael Ward and Jennifer Glock with Stephanie Cost

“If, as president, I can play a small, personal role in guiding students and creating a world-class experience for them, then it’s time well spent,” said Tim Cost. “When I speak with students, get to know them a bit, ask them how our university can help them reach their dreams, those conversations always make us better as a university. I probably get more out of those experiences than the students do.”

The concept appealed to Glock, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. “I like to mentor and guide. That’s kind of what I’ve always done,” she said. “Jacksonville University said ‘You can be as involved as you want to be.’”

In 2018, Ward and Glock chose their first group of students for the newly created Glock Fellows program at JU during a blind selection process in which they only considered essays the students had written. Beyond academic eligibility and financial need, the only requirement was that the students demonstrate an ability to overcome challenges.

After some deliberation, they selected six bright young men and women with diverse aspirations, and began planning nice dinners and outings with the students to get to know them.

“Initially, we would take them two at a time to Ruth’s Chris and a show at the symphony,” Ward said. “Then we had them over at the house for a cookout. We have a nice game room in our house with a shuffleboard, and a pool table, and a pinball machine. Usually after we have something to eat, we go upstairs and play games.”

They recalled how one cookout at their house ended in a trip to the emergency room when Glock cut her hand on a broken dish. When she and Ward returned home that night, the students had cleaned the entire kitchen. “They were very sweet and concerned,” she said.

Through these gatherings, the students grew closer to their generous patrons and closer to each other. Drawing from her experience as a therapist, Glock offered a listening ear for the students, and, when asked, gave thoughtful guidance and support.

Jennifer Glock with scholarship students at a pumpkin-carving event
Jennifer Glock with scholarship students at a pumpkin-carving event

Shelcy Hodge, who graduated from JU in 2022 with a degree in engineering, was among the first group of Glock Fellows. She fondly remembers carving pumpkins with Ward and Glock during an event on campus her sophomore year and trying escargot for the first time during dinner at Ruth’s Chris. (She preferred the steak.)

“We bonded and got to learn about each other,” Hodge said. “It had a huge impact on me knowing that your scholarship donors do care about you. I cherish those moments a lot.”

Hodge now works for Norfolk Southern, one of seven major Class I railroads in North America, and she aspires to be as successful as “Mr. Michael” someday.

Mama and Papa Stein

Linda and David Stein
Linda and David Stein

Devoted philanthropists and community supporters David and Linda Stein also embrace a hands-on approach with their investments in scholarships. Deeply committed to building a stronger future for the Jacksonville community, the Steins have donated millions for education, arts, animal welfare and other programs to enhance the quality of life in Northeast Florida.

The Steins pioneered this hands-on approach to student scholarships more than two decades ago through their Stein Scholars program at JU and UNF. They actively mentor dozens of students each year with a strong emphasis on community engagement. Together, the Steins and their “Steiners” build HabiJax houses, clean kennels at the Jacksonville Humane Society, visit the mayor’s office, and participate in other community-focused projects.

“Our Steiners are a family,” said Linda Stein. “After almost 25 years of the Steiner program in Jacksonville, we have a network of students who have grown into scholars, business-owners, doctors, artists and leaders in the community we love so much.”

David and Linda Stein with a group of Steiners
David and Linda Stein with a group of Steiners

A JU alumna, Linda Stein is a longtime financial supporter of her alma mater, as well as UNF, and serves on the JU Board of Trustees. JU’s fine arts college is named after her – the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts & Humanities. Her passion for giving back to the community and helping others was instilled in her as a child.

“Jacksonville University provided me with a home away from home when I was a student,” she said. “I enjoyed a sense of belonging and experienced such a strong feeling of family at this special university. It has led me to a lifetime of fulfillment, and shaped three core beliefs that serve as my guide: the belief in family; the belief in giving back; and the belief in education.”

Those core beliefs are woven into the fabric of the Stein Scholars program, cultivating a passion for serving the community in the next generation.

“The biggest thing that impacted me with [the Steins] was their drive to give back to Jacksonville,” said Steiner Jenna Edwards, who graduated from JU in 2022 and plans to become a dentist. “Everything we did was to educate us on how we can help our community thrive. Really seeing their impact made me look at Jacksonville in a different way.”

Edwards and fellow Stein Scholar A.J. Pulliam said being a Steiner really does feel like being part of a family. “[Linda Stein] is almost like a second mother to me,” said Pulliam, recalling how the Stein Scholars often referred to their donors as “Mama and Papa Stein.”

Linda Stein with AJ Pulliam
Linda Stein with AJ Pulliam

“They were really influential in convincing me to pursue my masters in music,” said Pulliam, who is enrolled in graduate school at University of Florida. Pulliam was deeply impacted by the meaningful advice Linda Stein once offered. “She said, ‘Step out of your comfort zone.’ It’s when we are the most uncomfortable that we grow the most,” Pulliam reflected.

The Steins have personally supported and guided more than 160 students through the years, and they agree it was well worth their time.

“Supporting our students and providing an education is the greatest gift of human potential, giving young people the opportunity to become what they want to be, in ways that make them strong and proud,” said Linda Stein.

Hope for the Future

In 2022, Ward, Glock and the Steins had the privilege of seeing some of their scholars graduate. They were certainly proud, but even more so, they were filled with hope.

“It made me feel better about the future,” said Glock, her eyes filling with tears. “Seeing all those kids and how hard they try and all the things they’ve accomplished…it made me hopeful.”

Many Glock Fellows and Stein Scholars still keep in touch with their donors after graduating. Meanwhile, the Steins, Ward and Glock continue to devote financial support and personal time to new and current scholarship students as they watch their investments mature.

“It’s different than just writing a check and sending it to somebody. You don’t see where it goes. You don’t see what it does,” Glock said. “For me, I like seeing personally what our money does. It feeds me in a different way.”

by Laura Phelps