PHOENIX — J.J. Watt is bringing a legacy of philanthropy with him to the Valley as he joins the Arizona Cardinals.
His foundation, the J.J. Watt Foundation, seeks to give all kids a safe environment after school through activities. It’s already helping kids in the Valley.
Watt’s mom, Connie, is the foundation’s vice president. She’s also the one who first taught him the value of giving back.
Connie Watt said J.J. and his siblings first learned this through allowance.
“They could spend part of it and they had to save part of it for charity,” said Connie Watt.
Watt learned not all kids have access to after-school programs while playing football at the University of Wisconsin.
“He went to the college and started the foundation all on his own,” said Connie Watt. She says the foundation has given over $6 million to fund after-school programs in schools in 38 states.
“He’s definitely a very generous and giving person,” said Connie Watt.
Several Arizona schools are already on the receiving end of the grants: Arizona City Elementary School, ASU Preparatory Academy, Cactus Canyon, Canon Elementary, Cheatham Elementary, Paseo Pointe Middle School, Pensar Academy and Santa Fe Elementary.
The foundation targets schools that have a majority of kids on the free- and reduced-lunch programs.
“The kids are so appreciative… We’re just trying to touch as many kids as we can,” said Connie Watt.
Once J.J. puts on the Cardinals uniform, the goal is to give back here even more.
“We’re still wrapping our heads around where he’s at and where he’s going, but we definitely want to get ingrained in the community,” said Connie Watt.