The History of a Simple Idea
The C. E. Mendez Foundation was established in 1963 by Charles E. Mendez, a native of Tampa, Florida and local businessman, and founder of Redwing Carriers, Inc., a Florida-based trucking company.
Mr. Mendez established the Foundation to support local charitable organizations whose purpose was to provide opportunities to underprivileged children and their families living in the Tampa Bay area. Following Mr. Mendez's death in 1967, management of the Mendez Foundation was continued by the family.
In 1975, Charles E. Mendez, Jr., President, concerned with the alarming growth of drug, alcohol and tobacco use by young people, sought to direct the Foundation's resources to address this growing substance abuse problem. Recognizing that the most effective means of affecting change was through education, he refocused the efforts of the Mendez Foundation to develop and deliver prevention education programs. The Mendez Foundation's prevention programs would be developed with this philosophy simply stated: that providing children, at an appropriate age, factual information about drugs, alcohol and tobacco, combined with development of critical decision making and goal setting skills, delivered by professional educators who are positive role models, will inevitably result in better decision-making by our children.
In 1979 the Mendez Foundation's philosophy was put into action when the first Sixth Grade Me-ology classes were taught in the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa. Mendez Foundation Prevention Specialists have been teaching classes in Hillsborough County Public Schools ever since. The successful implementation of these programs gained national recognition in the early eighties as school systems from all over the country were eager to introduce drug prevention into their classrooms. In response, the Foundation began distributing and selling the curricula.
Since the program's beginnings in sixth grade, grades seven and eight as well as the High School Level curriculum of Too Good for Drugs have been delivered by the Mendez Foundation's Prevention Specialists.
The Mendez Foundation's staff of professional educators have taken these simple concepts and created some off the most effective drug and violence prevention education programs reaching children from kindergarten through High School. In fact, Too Good for Drugs™ and Too Good for Violence are currently used by over 3,500 school districts throughout the United States.
Today, the Mendez Foundation takes the prevention message beyond the classroom and into the community. The annual I am Too Good for Drugs Walk and Kidfest provides a safe, free, and drug-free event to thousands of children and their families each year to celebrate Red Ribbon Week in Tampa. The Mendez Foundation hosts the Walk and Kidfest to bring prevention partners from throughout the community together to celebrate and reinforce healthy drug-free community norms and expectations and show the children in the community how they can remain safe and drug free. The event hosts a banner contest in which students from the community work together to present their positive drug free message and then proudly carry their banner and message along the one mile fun walk.
The Mendez Foundation also explores prevention education through theatre to bring the prevention message to life for Kindergarten students and Second Graders. Carmen and Wagner explore how to make friends and make positive choices in choosing safe friends in "Friends Are Happening" and learn how to steer clear of peer pressure and negative influences in "The Talk it Out Show."
We also work hard to reinforce the prevention skills within the community in the summer in a partnership with the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department. Each summer we take Too Good into twenty one City of Tampa Recreation Centers to deliver the prevention message in a fun and active team-building format.
Of course we continue to write our history as we endeavor to do more to build happy and healthy kids everywhere. We hope you will join us on our way.