October Newsletter

Teacher Spotlight: Anthony Thomas

Mr. Thomas is a 3rd year Teacher/Instructor for the JKL at Animo South Los Angeles! He has played a major role in shifting the after school culture on the ASLA campus and has become a sought after teacher to collaborate with.

The passion and positive influence he displays to the students in the ASLA JKL program is unmatched. He is an ambassador for the gratitude circle and strives to keep it sacred in the program. He feels that the gratitude circle is essential in that it sets aside time for students to express their gratitude amongst their peers. Mr. Thomas’ passion for encouraging positivity among the students comes from his appreciation for life.

He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer at the age of 8 and has prevailed from the cancer since he was 12 years old. Says Mr. Thomas, “The purpose of my life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be moral, to be compassionate, and to be able to make some kind of difference because I have lived.” Mr. Thomas has contributed his time, energy and professional skill of photography to the JKL program and foundation. Many of our favorite pictures from our programs in action have come from his creative eye. We are fortunate to have Mr. Thomas on our j.k livin team leading the charge and impacting our JKL students here in Los Angeles!



Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation Event and Field Day


On Wednesday, September 13th, students in our Dallas area just keep livin Foundation programs got to experience a special treat, thanks to our longtime partner, the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.

Teens from Eastern Hills High School in Ft. Worth, L.G. Pinkston High School in Dallas, and Sam Houston High School in Arlington were brought to the Rangers Youth Ballpark for an afternoon of fitness and fun, complete with relay races and hula hoop games. In addition, the kids got to meet just keep livin Foundation Founder Matthew McConaughey who talked to them about the importance of trying to infuse life’s more mundane tasks such as homework and chores with a sense of pleasure and fun, to make them more bearable!

Congregating on the shaded bleachers to beat the Texas heat, the kids shared their favorite parts of the just keep livin program and had a great time getting to ask Matthew questions and even hear the story behind his famous phrase – “Alright Alright Alright.” The students were then brought over to Globe Life Park, where they watched the Rangers take on the Seattle Mariners.

One very lucky JKL student, Samiya Momhamed-Fawzy who has been in the program 3 years, even got to throw out the first pitch in the game, with some on-field support from Matthew! Thanks so much to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation for an amazing continued partnership and for always creating such special opportunities for our students! (Photo Credit: Kelly Gavin, Texas Rangers)



Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts


We are thrilled to kick off the 2017-2018 school year and wish all of our JKL educators a successful year of programming! We continue to be in awe of the positive impact each of our teachers make.

As you all know, Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas Gulf area recently and wreaked havoc on many lives. The students of the Akins High School just keep livin program in Austin wanted to find a way to volunteer and help with the recovery efforts.

They decided to hold a Hurricane Harvey Relief Pet Supply Drive at their school to benefit Austin Pets Alive! Many animals were displaced during the hurricane and their local animal shelter anticipated on taking in hundreds of animals. So the Akins students opted to help with the growing need for pet-related items by collecting donations from the local community.

The students were able to collect cat litter, collars, tarps, dog treats, and bowls for feeding, and then take all donated items directly to A.P.A. for distribution. We love seeing our students join together with their local community to help those in need!



LADF College and Career Accelerator


Last month, two of our Los Angeles JKL programs, Fremont and Animo Inglewood, had the chance to attend the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation’s College and Career Accelerator Panel discussion. Our students had a great time hearing from the professional minds who make the Dodgers organization operate smoothly from behind the scenes.

The panel was moderated by Nichol Whiteman (Executive Director of LADF) and the panelists included Sara Curran (Assistant Controller), Doug Fearing (Director of Research and Development and Baseball Operations), Paige Kirkpatrick (Director of Partnership Sales Administration and Service), Matt Mesa (Manager of Social Media, Digital and Print Content), Lenora O’Keith (Desktop Technician) and Ross Yoshida (Director of Graphic Design and Marketing Communication).

The panelists gave firsthand information on what it takes to pursue a career in the sports industry. Internships were a common thread for all the panelists who stressed that obtaining an internship in the career that students are passionate about can pay off down the line. Some of the key takeaways the panelists expressed to our students were to be cautious of their social media presence, to be kind to those around them and to “go above and beyond the job you were hired for.”

The LADF did a great job assembling a top-notch panel and providing awesome door prizes, including field level tickets to the final regular season game, which one of our JKL students took home! We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation and providing more amazing opportunities for our JKL students.



Los Angeles Rams Game

On Sunday, September 10th, 105 of our just keep livin students and staff attended the home opener for the Los Angeles Rams! We are so grateful to the Los Angeles Rams Foundation for their generous donation of tickets to provide such a wonderful experience for our JKL students.

For many of our kids, this was their first time attending a professional football game. The smiles on the their faces were evidence of their excitement as they cheered the Rams to a 46-9 win. When we visited our local programs the week after the game, the students were still talking about their incredible experience and how much fun they had attending the game!



Sydney Paige Inc Donates 1,250 Backpacks to JKL Students

We want to give a huge thank you to Sydney Paige Inc. for their generous donation of 1,250 backpacks (many of them filled with school supplies as well!) to JKL students for the start of the new school year!

Sydney Paige’s mission is to promote the importance of education and enrich the life of a child in need while empowering those more fortunate to help break the cycle of poverty… one child at a time. For every product they sell, another is donated to a student in need, with the goal of giving under-served children the tools and confidence they need to learn and thrive in school.

We’re proud to be one of Sydney Paige’s “Giving Partners” that customers can choose to donate their “free” backpack to upon checkout. 1,250 backpacks exceeded our highest expectations for this partnership and we are so grateful to them for making this possible for our students nationwide! You can continue to support this ongoing campaign by purchasing a bag HERE and another gets filled with supplies & donated to a j.k. livin student!



JKL Store Opening


We hope you are just as excited as we are about the 2.0 version of the just keep livin store. You can start shopping immediately at, and this is the ONLY place you can purchase official just keep livin products!

We are excited to be selling official JKL T-shirts, hats, other fun accessories, as well as a limited-edition hurricane relief T-Shirt. Our goal is to provide you with fresh options throughout the year, so please check back at the store often and send us your suggestions!

Last, but not least, don’t forget to send in pics of yourself sporting your new JKL gear for a chance to be featured on the site! Welcome (back) to the family, and remember, now times and all time, just keep livin!



Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling

Click Here for a Total Body Workout in 5 Moves

In this workout you will challenge:

  1. Proprioception
  2. Balance
  3. Multi-plannar movements
  4. Compound movements that involve multiple muscles at once


September Newsletter

Student Spotlight: John

Despite the fact he’s only just starting his Sophomore year, JKL member John from Eastern Hills high school in Fort Worth, TX, is already making the investment to have the just keep livin program be an essential part of his high school journey. In addition to making sure he doesn’t miss a session, John has formed new bonds with his peers and has been an advocate in recruiting new students to join the program.

Although running is his passion, his favorite component of the JKL program is the Gratitude Circle, because that is where he experiences the most connectivity with his peers. He loves that everyone feels comfortable sharing personal things with no judgement and how that creates a family atmosphere within the group.

Furthermore, John’s parents are glad he has a safe place after school where he can go to experience unique opportunities and develop healthy eating habits that he can share with his siblings. John’s favorite JKL moment so far is when he volunteered for the “Flavor Run.” He had to make sure that all the runners passing by got their fair share of fruit flavored colored powder!

Upon graduation, John would love to study Law Enforcement at UT Dallas and then become a lawyer. We love students like John who jump right in to our program and actively participate, and we look forward to hearing more about his JKL journey this upcoming school year!

Welcome Back JKL

We are thrilled to kick off the 2017-2018 school year and wish all of our JKL educators a successful year of programming! We continue to be in awe of the positive impact each of our teachers make in improving the lives and health of the students we serve. We will have six new JKL programs kicking off their inaugural programs this year: John Adams H.S. and Martin Luther King Jr. H.S in Cleveland, OH; Jordan H.S. in Los Angeles, CA; Lanier H.S. in Austin, TX; Phelps H.S. in Washington D.C; and Cohen H.S. in New Orleans, LA. We have some really strong and passionate change-makers who will be running these programs and we are looking forward to watching them thrive!

Lip Sync Battle Field Trip

On Saturday August 19th, 15 of our just keep livin students from Animo South Los Angeles high school were thrilled to attend Nickelodeon’s “Lip Sync Battle: Shorties” at Warner Brothers Studios! Students enjoyed the full VIP experience as they got to go behind the scenes prior to taping as well as meet some of the contestants and enjoy refreshments.

The taping was hosted by JoJo Siwa and Nick Cannon who were so friendly and accommodating to our group and provided them with a truly electric experience! Our students danced and cheered as they watched some of their favorite up-and-coming celebrities lip sync their hearts out as they took the big stage. We are so grateful to Casey Patterson, Brittany Mehmedovic and the whole team at Casey Patterson Entertainment for their continued support of just keep livin and for providing yet another wonderful experience for some of our Los Angeles students!

Landry Walker HS Wellness Clinic

School has only just started, but JKL members are already making great strides towards improving their health! On August 5th, students from our j.k. livin program at Landry Walker High School in New Orleans participated in the Algiers Community Health and Wellness Expo.

At the event, students had the opportunity to participate in a myriad of free fitness activities and left with their arms full of gifts from various health and wellness vendors, along with valuable information about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Our members got the chance to partake in Exercise/Fitness Classes, Healthy Cooking Demonstrations, Wellness Screenings, a Blood Drive, Rock Climbing as well as visit a booth that helped place students in careers in the healthcare field. We are so grateful for those JKL members who participated in this event and were able to connect with local organizations within the New Orleans community and gain educational information and resources for healthier living!

JKL Alumni Give Back

We love it when our JKL students cultivate a passion for giving back that they can then take with them even after they graduate! This summer, two of our JKL alumni, Evelyn R. from ASLA and Chris R. from Venice High School, continued to give back to their local community by serving as a camp counselors at Camp Ubuntu – Watts.

This 6 week-long day camp, sponsored by the Harold Robinson Foundation, is held at Markham Middle School in the underserved Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Camp Ubuntu seeks to equip students with the tools to achieve, connect and thrive by providing them with access to a meaningful and engaging summer camp experience in a safe and nurturing environment.

When we caught up with Evelyn after camp, she told us, “this is where I realized how big of an impact I have on the future generation because I was able to provide a positive learning experience to the kids. I am not so sure where else I would have had that chance.” Evelyn and Chris both felt that they learned and grew from the experience just as much as the younger campers they were there to help! They were amazed at how any time they needed a hand, there was always someone willing to help! Both Chris and Evelyn are so grateful for the positive experience of being counselors at this wonderful camp and having such a fulfilling experience!

Terranea Chef’s Table Dinner

On Thursday August 24th, the just keep livin Foundation was honored to be the featured charity partner of Terranea Resort’s “Chef’s Table Dinner.” This exclusive event, held in one of the resort’s beautiful villas, was attended by 15 of Terranea’s clients who have a passion for food, wine and giving back.

In addition to receiving a portion of the proceeds from the evening, JKL Managing Director Erica Doyle was invited to attend the event and speak to the guests about JKL’s mission and programs. We would like to thank our water sponsor Icelandic Glacial for bringing us this special opportunity!

Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling

Partner Workout in the Gym

This one will set your muscles on fire. Recently published in the Huffington Post, this workout can also be viewed on my website HERE.

So grab a partner and go. Get ready to sweat like a pig but look like a super hero. LOL!

August Newsletter

Student Spotlight: Hermela

Hermela, an outstanding member of just keep livin, is a rising-Senior at Roosevelt High School. Even though last year was her first with the JKL program, she has already benefited so much from her involvement with the group. She has made strides towards conquering her shyness and becoming a healthier and more active teenager. At first, Hermela was too shy to work out in front of her peers, but once she felt the positive encouragement and support within the program, she immediately became a fiercely dedicated member.

Her father is proud that she is being active after school, especially since joining a sports team was never a focus of hers and JKL provides a different type of outlet for her to exercise and meet new people. Hermela’s favorite activities are learning how to use the weight room equipment properly and participating in the weekly swim classes.

Since joining the JKL program, Hermela has become more conscious of her eating habits and has vowed to make better food choices that will influence her two little brothers to eat healthier. She found herself becoming a natural ambassador for the program and is determined to get all her peers involved. Hermela comes from a family of small business owners and wants to obtain a degree in accounting and finance to follow in their footsteps. She would love to be accepted into Virginia Central University for undergrad and get her MBA from UCLA.

Alright Alright Alright T-Shirt Campaign

Just in case you need a good excuse to shop…For 2 weeks only, help Matthew McConaughey raise money for the just keep livin Foundation by purchasing his limited edition ‘alright, alright, alright’ T-shirt and hat. Exclusively at from now until August 14th only!

JKL Expansion into Cleveland

What’s Matthew McConaughey been doing in Cleveland recently? In addition to filming his upcoming film, White Boy Rick, he’s also been working hard to bring our just keep livin afterschool fitness and wellness program to two local high schools he developed a soft spot for while filming nearby – John Adams and Martin Luther King Jr.

We brought the JKL instructors from these two schools out to LA in June for our annual National Teacher Training. They are all really excited to get the program started and feel confident Cleveland will be a great fit for JKL! Matthew recently chatted with Katie Couric for Yahoo News about the affinity he’s developed for this resilient city and what he hopes to bring to students there through the j.k. livin program. Check out the piece here.

JKL National Teacher Training 2017

This year our annual National Teacher Training in Los Angeles was a blast! 70 of our JKL teachers gathered from our programs all over the country to learn from each other, share best practices, and most of all get re-energized for another year of JKL programming. Microsoft was nice enough to allow us to use their cool “Microsoft Lounge” space in Venice Beach for the training, as well as provide gourmet catering for our teachers to enjoy.

Our teachers got a special surprise when Mr. McConaughey himself stopped by to kick off the first day on his way to the airport! He told some great stories about the origins of the phrase “just keep livin” and fired up the teachers for the long day ahead. This year’s theme was based around communication and creativity. We always like to encourage and inform our teachers on ways to enhance the JKL program at their respective schools and how to provide new opportunities for their students.

We split the teachers up into 2 groups for workouts at Body By Simone and Burn 60, respectively, followed by delicious cold-pressed juices from Pressed Juicery. As a reward for all their hard work, the group enjoyed a fun happy hour on the beach in Marina Del Rey at the Jamaica Bay Inn as well as a rowdy Italian dinner outside on the patio at C&O Trattoria! We especially loved welcoming in the teachers from our newest programs at Cohen High School in New Orleans, and John Adams and Martin Luther King Jr. high schools in Cleveland.

LourdMurray NFL Fantasy Football Camp

The 2nd Annual LourdMurray NFL Fantasy Football Camp held at Brentwood School was in full throttle in mid-July! Our j.k. livin team was proud to help organize this week-long camp which provided an opportunity for over 200 inner city youth to sharpen their athletic skills while being mentored by some of their favorite Pro Players! The camp, open to incoming 6th, 7th and 8th graders, was attended by students from Olive Crest, KIPP LA schools, the Watts Bears, Brentwood School and Wilder Preparatory Academy.

We are very grateful to the Brentwood Football coaching staff and administration for hosting the camp, as well as to all of the NFL players who donated their time to give these students a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This year’s NFL professionals included Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Aqib Talib (Denver Broncos), and Kyle Williams (Buffalo Bills), among others. We want to give a special shout out as well to FitJoy for providing delicious protein bars to keep the campers power through the hot days!

Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling

Summer is in full swing and that means barbecues, picnics, and lots of other opportunities to celebrate. Here are some viable tools to help you stay on track with your health while enjoying GREAT times with the GREAT people in your life:

  1. Eat before you go to the party: This will put you in a position to not be desperate to pick from the party table, especially since you ain’t gonna see a lot of veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats. (or maybe you will!)
  2. Grab a workout before the festivities: A high intensity interval training program will guarantee your body’s metabolism a little kick in the rear for up to 36 hours. So your body will become a calorie burning furnace for that chip or two you eat with dip and whatever else you eat (and drink)…
  3. Drink plenty of water: If you drink booze, then drink water WITH IT. If you are looking to get drunk off your rear-end, then I have no tips for you! Ha.
  4. Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep that night: Your body will be physiologically off, thereby lowering your immunity a bit, so stave off any viruses and bacterium through optimal rest so that you can avoid getting sick. Many people tend to get sick after binging on their favorite things and letting loose.
  5. Decide that whatever you do, don’t spend the time feeling isolated as the person on a diet: There is nothing more annoying than guests being uncomfortable because of their personal self-set restrictions. Get it out of your head now cause it will ruin your time. As long as you go in with a viable plan and hop right back into optimal eating and personal care the very next day, you will be fine. One meal only people; don’t make it a whole day’s affair of eating and drinking crap.

July Newsletter

Student Spotlight: James

In addition to being a cyber tech enthusiast, James, a member of the j.k. livin program at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, is on a mission to achieve workout gains and protect the world.

James is a Senior and has been a faithful member of the JKL program since its introduction this past Fall. He enjoys having a place to come work out with new friends and learn important information about health and nutrition. Prior to joining the JKL program, James volunteered with the Theatre Arts program and took pictures for the yearbook club.

James is taking steps to cut down on his junk food intake and is starting to watch the nutritional content of his meals. James’s mother enjoys the fact that he has a safe place after school that encourages positivism and gratitude. JKL instructor Mr. Jose Luna says, “James has always been a great competitor and he loves taking on challenges and, for him, giving up is not an option. He is a great positive example for his peers in the JKL program.” James currently has a 3.0 and his goal is to study cyber security at the University Texas San Antonio after high school.

JKL Shining Stars from Venice High School

We are thrilled to give a special shout out to three graduating Seniors from our just keep livin program at Venice High School in Los Angeles. Christopher, Max and Juan each received the “James Worthy Coach of the Year” award along with $250 scholarships, respectively.

Max will be attending West LA College in the Fall to study Mathematics and then plans to transfer to UCLA to major in Statistics. Ultimately, he wants to pursue a career in Data Analytics and to specialize in Sports Data Probability. Chris is going to Santa Monica College and then plans to transfer to UCLA to major in Psychology/Child Development. Juan will also be attending SMC in the Fall and may pursue a Physical Education degree with a focus on Special Education.

Christopher and Max peer-coached for seven seasons with Team Prime Time in basketball, flag football, and soccer. Juan peer-coached for five seasons with all 3 sports as well. These Seniors have consistently demonstrated enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment to coaching student athletes with special needs throughout the entire time they were members of JKL. They loved helping and giving back to others so much that they would take the initiative to recruit other peer coaches and made sure that they were available when called upon! We cannot say enough about these three young men and wish them all the best in their new endeavors!

Operation Progress

Earlier this month, the just keep livin office staff, along with Board Member Robin Berman, attended a “Ride Along” with the Operation Progress team in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Operation Progress is an organization that seeks to create hope, opportunity and success for disadvantage youth in L.A. The organization has a unique partnership with LAPD, were the officers serve as mentors to young students in the community each week.

LAPD Officers Coughlin and Ortiz, as well as Operation Progress Executive Director Theresa Gartland, did a great job educating our team on the history of Watts, showing us the housing units and giving us a chance to meet their O.P. students at a local elementary school. We even had the chance to meet an O.P. graduate who is heading to Boston College in the Fall. The trip was an eye-opening experience for us all and we look forward to collaborating with Operation Progress in the near future.

Venetian Blackjack Tournament

We were honored to be selected by The Venetian Las Vegas as the charitable beneficiary of a Blackjack Tournament they put together on Saturday, June 17th. Our very own Matthew McConaughey hosted the event, which was an exclusive gathering for some of the hotel and casino’s special guests.

Attendees included actress Ali Larter (“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”), Hayes MacArthur (“Angie Tribeca”), Country singer Jack Ingram, and Butch Gilliam of CNBC’s “West Texas Investors Club.” The event’s menu featured such delicacies as poached truffle egg custard with caviar and wagyu beef tartare.

In addition to his hosting duties, McConaughey also served as Auctioneer for the evening, bringing in some additional funds by auctioning off enticing packages such as premiere tickets for his upcoming film, The Dark Tower. We want to sincerely thank The Venetian Las Vegas for executing a flawless, fun-filled event and for being such a generous supporter of JKL!

Pedal on the Pier

On Sunday June 4th, several of our current and former just keep livin students volunteered to participate at the Pedal on the Pier fundraiser, held at the iconic Santa Monica Pier, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

This outdoor physical philanthropy event, during which 400 + riders cycle for 5 hours/100 miles along with some of the city’s top cycling instructors, is one that we always love supporting. This annual event raises money for the Harold Robinson Foundation, which provides the funding and resources to send Los Angeles’ less fortunate children to camp in a safe and nurturing environment, far away from the stress that most of them face on a daily basis.

We are lucky enough to get to send our JKL students to Camp Ubuntu every year thanks to this amazing organization, and it has become one of the experiences our students look forward to the most! It was so nice for JKL members to be able to help give back to our partner organization in such a fun and active way!

Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling

NUTRITION: Cold Salads for Summer

On hot days, eat cold, organic and raw veggies. Don’t like raw? Get creative. You can simply mix raw veggies with apple cider vinegar and other miracle toppings that align with optimal health, while providing out of this world flavor.

My favorite is my Israeli Salad. I love putting tuna in there, but I will warn you that you should only apply the tuna when you are absolutely ready to eat it. Therefore, keep the tuna salad separate from the other veggies and then mix when you are ready to rock it. This is a great easy picnic and party option. Others LOVE it.

June Newsletter

Student Spotlight: Aleyda

Aleyda is an energetic, loving, “corny-joke enthusiast” Junior who is finishing up her third year in the JKL program at Animo Inglewood Charter High School in Los Angeles. During Aleyda’s Freshman year, her mother encourage her to try out for sports, but that was not of interest to her. It wasn’t until her friend Alondra introduced her to the JKL program that Aleyda started to be interested in being active after school.

Through the JKL program, Aleyda has been able to meet new friends, make healthier choices, workout and develop a passion for community service. “Aleyda is an amazing student who is involved in student council and is kind to so many people. She is very selfless and always thinks of others first,” said JKL instructor, Ms. Gonzalez. Aleyda’s mother is so grateful that she has finally found a safe, positive and supportive environment like JKL that she can attend twice a week.

Aleyda is now on a mission to get accepted to her dream school, University of California, Berkeley where she would like to study psychology and make a positive mark in the word. As Aleyda sets out to conquer her dreams of graduating with flying colors, you can be sure that she has Bruno Mars songs playing in the background to help her stay motivated and grateful!

Beach Day with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation

For our JKL Los Angeles End of the Year Celebration, we were thrilled to team up with our friends at the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation. This organization is doing remarkable work through providing free ocean therapy classes and surf lessons to veterans, foster children and inner city youth. On Saturday, May 20th, we brought over 90 JKL students to El Porto Beach in the South Bay for a day filled with sunshine, laughter, physical challenges, and peer to peer motivation.

For many of our students, it was their first time getting on a surfboard and for some, it was even their first time in the ocean. The event itself helped bring to life the four major tenants of the JKL program by featuring Surfing & Body Surfing Stations (Fitness), a Yoga Station (Gratitude/Reflection), Beach Clean-Up Station (Community Service), and a healthy lunch and snacks for all attendees (Nutrition).

We are so grateful to the JMMF for all of their help executing this event and securing so many wonderful volunteers who donated their time to help make the day one our students will never forget. Additionally, we would like to thank our just keep livin teachers and staff, Growing Great, LACO Lifeguards, Campsurf, South Bay Boardriders Club, Heal the Bay, Redondo Beach SeaLab, YogaLoft, Green Yogi, Yoga Mitra, Mukti Yoga, KIND Snacks, Amigos Unidos, National Charity League, Girl Scout Cadette Troop 2055, Brad Jacobson/Civic Couch and Jersey Mikes.

Washington Redskins Draft Day Dash 5K

April in Washington D.C. was a busy month for our just keep livin programs, as JKL students from Ballou, Anacostia, and Roosevelt high schools were all given the chance to participate in the third annual Washington Redskins Draft Day Dash 5K at FedExField.

We had over 69 JKL participants enter the race, which concluded inside the field, allowing participants to experience the stadium by running through the players tunnels to finish on the 50-yard line. For 90% of our students, this was their first time running in an organized race event and we’re proud to say that 100% of them finished! Students also had the chance to meet actor Michael Ealey and Redskins Rookies Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson. Thank you to our partners at the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation for providing a day filled with fun and fitness for so many of our local D.C. teens!

Thank you Daniel Norris!

Detroit Tigers pitcher and friend of the Foundation, Daniel Norris, recently invited five just keep livin students and two JKL teachers out to Angel Stadium to watch his Tigers take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The JKL crew received the VIP treatment, including the opportunity to come out onto the field to watch batting practice before the game! The students really enjoyed meeting Daniel himself and learning about his journey to the MLB and the way his motto to “just keep livin” has helped him remain resilient and positive despite the challenges he has faced throughout his journey.

The kids especially got a kick out of seeing the phrase “just keep livin” stitched onto Daniel’s glove in gold thread. Students hung out until batting practice finished, enjoying the chance to meet a few more players including All-Star Miguel Cabrera. One of the kids even managed to catch a stray ball and get some autographs before heading to their seats to enjoy the game! Thank you Daniel for providing our students with this very special opportunity and for being such a valued supporter of our Foundation!

City Year Event

On Saturday, May 6th, 25 of our just keep livin students from Venice High School and Animo South Los Angeles attended City Year’s annual Spring Break event at the Commissary Lawn on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, California.

This annual event brings out a star-studded crowd for a high-energy night of musical performances, food and games. Proceeds enable City Year to work with thousands of at-risk students and provide them with extra care and support. This year’s list of celebrity hosts included Octavia Spencer, Milo Ventimiglia, Liam Hemsworth and a performance by One Republic. This experience would not have been possible without the generous donation from JKL Foundation supporter, Mr. Palmer Murray. Thank you Palmer for providing our students with this incredible experience!

End of the Year Celebration in Austin: MYLO Obstacle Fitness

just keep livin students from East Austin College Prep and Reagan High School in Austin joined forces recently for an end of year celebration at MYLO Obstacle Fitness, Austin’s only outdoor obstacle course gym.

The thirty JKL students who attended took full advantage of MYLO’s 24 outdoor obstacles, a creek, trails to run, free weights and hills for cardio. During this fun-filled event, students worked on their physical fitness through increasing their strength, cardio, agility, endurance and mental discipline, while also having a blast. Comfort zones were pushed, new friendships built and lots of teamwork was demonstrated. The smiles on the kids’ faces says it all!

JKL Shining Stars at Eastern Hills HS in Dallas

We want to give a special shout-out to recognize the amazing accomplishment of four of our just keep livin students at Eastern Hills High School in Dallas – shown from left to right, they are Dafne Luviano, Vanessa Espinoza, Estrella Martinez, and Doreen Nvambuka.

Estrella and Vanessa will be graduating in the top 2% of their graduating class, Dafne will be graduating in the top 10% of her graduating class and Doreen has received a full ride scholarship to TCU! Estrella, Vanessa and Dafne will all be attending UT Arlington. Congratulations to these four ladies along with all of our graduating JKL Seniors. We know that this will be only the first of many proud, successful moments for these fantastic students!

May Newsletter

Student Spotlight: Xochilt

“Committed”, “Passionate”, and “Grateful” are just a few words that describe JKL student, Xochilt, a Senior at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. Xochilt is a true JKL Ambassador, having been in the program since her Freshman year and having attended all of our community service and fitness events.

Before fully committing to the JKL program, Xochilt was skeptical about what she would gain from it. But then she had the opportunity to attend our annual overnight camping trip at Canyon Creek’s “Camp Ubuntu” and she was forever changed. She discovered that the JKL program had a truly well-rounded approach to providing guidance and resources for students to experience and “become better at life,” as she says.

Even today, Xochilt remains one our greatest leaders and is constantly promoting the program and recruiting new Hamilton students to join JKL. Family problems at home kept Xochilt dedicated to the program. Initially, the JKL program provided a safe place that allowed Xochilt to make new friends while gaining knowledge about how to implement better nutrition habits in her life. The fitness activities are now something Xochilt looks forward to weekly, especially when our in-house fitness expert Jenn Zerling is leading a dynamic and challenging workout session. After graduation, Xochilt is looking forward to studying criminal justice and become a lawyer with a degree from UCLA. We are so proud of her and we know she is going to go on to do great things!

A Successful 2017 Amazing Race

On Saturday April 8th in New Orleans, hundreds of participants came out to support this year’s Amazing Race fundraiser, running through the French Quarter collecting clues in a daytime scavenger hunt benefitting the just keep livin Foundation and Brittany & Drew Brees’ Brees Dream Foundation. We were thrilled to see some of our j.k. livin students from Warren Easton, Edna Karr and Landry Walker high schools come out fired up to race and meet Matthew McConaughey and Drew Brees! Clues hidden at various locations throughout the area led racers, among other locations, to an apartment on historic St. Charles Avenue where Drew and Matthew stood out on the balcony tossing the football down to the lucky competitors. The competition culminated at Walk-Ons Bistreaux & Bar where Brees presided over an “awards ceremony” and the team from the Ritz Carlton New Orleans home the top prize.

The party continued later that night at the House of Blues, which featured a VIP Dinner, Cocktail Reception and Live Auction run by Matthew and Drew which raised over $300,000 for the two charities. The highlight of the night, though, was definitely superstar Kenny Chesney, who put on an incredible show! He played all his hits including “Beer in Mexico,” “I Go Back, and “American Kids,” for which Matthew and Drew came out on stage to join him, helping add their own flavor to the show by playing the air guitar! Everyone had a great time while raising substantial funding for more opportunities for incredible kids in New Orleans and beyond! Thank you to all who came out and supported the event.

Mack, Jack & McConaughey 2017 – That’s a Wrap!

From April 19th – 22nd, the just keep livin Foundation team was in Austin, TX for our annual “Mack, Jack & McConaughey” (MJ&M) fundraiser. This is our fourth year partnering with Texas coaching legend Mack Brown and recording artist Jack Ingram on this joint fundraising effort. The festivities consisted of several fun-filled events including a golf tournament, a Jason Wu fashion show presented by Neiman Marcus, and two nights of live music featuring performances by Miranda Lambert, Kris Kristofferson, Little Big Town and many more!

A fantastic time was had by all, and most importantly, we were able to raise more than $2.5 million to help empower kids! We are honored to be one of the charitable beneficiaries (along with Dell Children’s Hospital, The Rise School of Austin, CureDuchenne, and HeartGift) who will be impacted by this great success. The money we raised will enable us to give even more students the tools to live healthier lives through our after-school fitness and wellness programs. Thank you to all who attended and lent their support to MJ&M 2017! And please save the date for next year’s event – April 12 & 13, 2018!

Lip Sync Battle Field Trip

The just keep livin program at Animo Inglewood Charter High School recently had the chance to visit the set of Spike TV’s hit show “Lip Sync Battle,” thanks to our generous friends at Casey Patterson Entertainment. This was an amazing experience for both students and staff who were treated like VIP guests throughout the duration of the field trip. The afternoon kicked off for our JKL students in their very own VIP area where they were able to watch a live taping of the show. Host LL Cool J gave multiple shout-outs to JKL during the taping which made our students go crazy! Celebrities Rumer Willis and Bryshere Y. Gray battled it out and put on amazing performances for the crowd.

After the live taping, our students were escorted back stage to meet Gray, along with hosts LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen. The fun continued with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the show, where students got to watch the LSB dancers rehearsing, take photos with the Lip Sync Battle champion belt and receive their very own LSB swag bags. Thank you to Casey Patterson, Brittany Mehmedovic and the whole team at Casey Patterson Entertainment for making all of this possible and giving our students a day they won’t soon forget!

Washington Redskins “Careers in Sports” Panel

Earlier this month, our partners at the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation put together a “Career in Sports” panel event for our JKL students from the Washington DC area. The panelists for the event included the following Redskins staff: Malcom Blacken (Director of Player Development), Carlyle Abbott (Direct of Special Events and Development), Jake Kring-Schreifels (Staff Writer and Publications Coordinator), Doug Quon (Assistant Athletic Trainer), Anthony Lanier II (Defensive End) and Moderator Larry Michael (Chief Content Office and Executive Producer).

It was great to have such a diverse panel of individuals give share their insights and advice with our students and talk a little about their respective roles within the organization. Students enjoyed hearing from this array of voices, and they walked away from the event with a deepened appreciation for the multiple elements and roles that contribute to the success of a professional sports team. The event took place at the Redskins’ practice facility in Ashburn, V.A., and our JKL students got to finish off the day with an awesome tour of the grounds. They even got the chance to throw a few passes on the practice field! We appreciate all the wonderful opportunities like this one that the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation provides for our JKL students!

Guest Speaker: Officer JB Williams

Officer JB Williams recently visited the JKL program at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles as a Guest Speaker. Officer Williams worked security for our very own Matthew McConaughey in 1996, and is currently serving as a police officer on local school campuses. He shared his story of how he watched his mother being mistreated by a cop and that moment inspired him to become a police officer to serve the people and protect his community. While he was growing up, Officer Williams was surrounded by drugs and gangs but made the effort to keep following the right path and go into law enforcement.

He has his fair share of regrets, such as wishing he had been more responsible during high school, as he learned twice during that time period that he was going to become a father. However, he was determined to keep striving toward his future, and he went on to work for a funeral parlor to make ends meet before applying to become a police officer and being accepted. Officer Williams understands the struggles young people face and found it easy to relate to the JKL students. The message he wanted to get across to them is that integrity is key. He stressed to them the importance of choosing who to hang out with, how to think, how to respond to poor situations, and continuing to remain responsible kids, so as to not become young parents like he did. Thank you so much, Officer Williams, for taking the time to come visit with our students and share your story with them!

Zava Zone Field Trip at Ballou High School

This past month our JKL program at Ballou High School in Washington DC challenged their students with a high-energy field trip visit to the ZavaZone, an indoor adventure park filled with activities ranging from zip lines and trampolines to heart-pounding high ropes courses. This was the first time Ballou students had visited the nearby city of Rockville, MD where ZavaZone is located. Each of the students had a fear of heights going into the activity, but these fears were conquered as the day went on through the completion of the elevated obstacle courses. Ballou student Ne’Coe set a new record in the ZavaZone’s adrenaline-pumping Warrior Race, coming in at 9.8 seconds. We tip our hats off to the Ballou JKL program teachers for making this a life-changing experience for their students!

Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling

NUTRITION: Increase Your Veggie Intake

Researchers are now finding that the average adults needs a minimum of 7-10 servings of vegetables, with the more athletic adult needing 12+ servings a day.

1 fist = 1 serving

You need variety, too. You need different colors of the rainbow. You need grab and go options.

Here is one vegetable that is great to have around for you and your kids.

April Newsletter

Student Spotlight: Maurice

Ballou High School JKL member Maurice is a lover of all things fitness, especially anything associated with track and field! Maurice loves to run and prides himself on how fast he is.In addition to excelling in the fitness portion of the JKL program, Maurice recently conquered his fear of talking and interacting with strangers during a JKL field trip to the local homeless shelter.

During the field trip, he was able to pass out toiletries for the holidays and interact with the shelter residents. “I never get bored attending the JKL program, I meet new people, have great experiences and everyone supports each other,” says Maurice.

Maurice is a only a Sophomore, but already has long-term plans to work with the Washington D.C Housing Authority so he can help create more affordable housing for his community. Since joining the JKL program, Maurice has made it a point to reduce his sugar intake by drinking more water and becoming more cautious of his daily food choices. “Maurice is our JKL champion this month because he has overcome several adversities and family struggles. He was able to overcome some of his fears and that will ultimately help him move forward in life,” says his JKL Instructor, Mr. Monroe.

Camp Ubuntu

95 j.k. livin students and 12 chaperones from our Los Angeles programs recently participated in our annual overnight camping trip to Camp Ubuntu at the Canyon Creek Complex near Lake Hughes, CA. The word “Ubuntu” translates to “ I am because we are” and this theme perfectly sums up the focus of this magical weekend, where students support each other in order to ensure success individuals as well as a team.

Our students enjoyed trying their hand at archery, had the opportunity to overcome their fears on the high ropes course, created music, hiked, painted outdoors, participated in a variety of team sports and cooled off with friends at the Slip n Slide! Each night ended at the campfire, where students bonded over music, s’mores, dancing and a special live concert on Saturday evening! Camp Ubuntu uses a holistic approach to foster positive self-development and encourages the students to take what they learned back into their communities. We are grateful to the Harold Robinson Foundation for making this memorable weekend possible for our students!

Hollygrove Campus Beautification Project

30 j.k. livin students from Manual Arts, Animo Inglewood and Animo South Los Angeles high schools recently came together to give back to their community in the form of a campus beautification project at the Hollygrove campus.

Our JKL students took on leadership roles within their groups that were combined with Hollygrove’s after-school participants. It was great seeing our High School students working, encouraging and completing tasks with the elementary-age kids. Students created new basketball court lines and benches, painted flower pots and weeded two gardens.

The Hollygrove campus now has a bright new colorful touch to it thanks to the efforts of just keep livin! We are so appreciative of the Hollygrove staff for opening their campus to our JKL programs to come and participate in a great community service event.

Black Light Slide Event

On Saturday March 18th, our just keep livin students and instructors from Warren Easton High School in New Orleans enjoyed a fun-filled field trip to the Blacklight Slide at Zephyrs Baseball Stadium. Backlight has a passion to give back to the community, especially children and families. With each event they host, they support Children’s Miracle Network and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Blacklight Slide was an amazing experience for our students as the event focused on UV neon glowing fun! During the day, the students went down slides filled with fun colors but once nighttime fell, the neon lights lit up and the party began! The evening portion of this event allowed the JKL students the chance to go down slides filled with neon glow-in-the-dark water!

During this fun and unique event, our JKL students enjoyed a live concert where they got to dance to the best music from some of the top DJs in the country. Students also enjoyed taking photos in the booth provided so they could each take a picture home to remember this wonderful evening!

Baby2Baby Community Service Event

This past month our j.k. livin program at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles collaborated with the incredible organization Baby2baby on a very special and rewarding community service event. Baby2Baby is an organization dedicated to providing low-income children ages 0-12 with all the basic necessities every child deserves. Our students were happy to spend an afternoon helping to organize and sort donations, assisting in quality control and recycling items in the Baby2baby warehouse. We are excited about our partnership with this inspiring non-profit and look forward to creating many more community service opportunities together for our JKL students!

Dallas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

On Sunday March 19th, a group of just keep livin students from our Dallas-area programs participated in the annual Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon. The runners – from L.G. Pinkston, Eastern Hills and Sam Houston high schools – were able to challenge themselves while also having a lot of fun with their peers, and are now basking in the sense of accomplishment after completing this challenging race! j.k livin participants were able to finish strong, even while battling warmer-than-usual early-spring temperatures.

Perhaps it was the extra support they received from JKL partner, Brooks Running Co., who not only created a large banner wishing JKL runners luck in the race, but also donated new running shoes to all JKL participants! Says Pinkston student and JKL member, Jenaro, “The feeling I got when I crossed that finish line was exhilarating!” We’re so proud of our JKL runners and so grateful for the support of Brooks Running Co., who really helped take this event to the next level for our students!

Coaches Corner with Jenn Zerling


Accountability is defined as being responsible for your own actions. Just think for a moment about the tasks and obligations you have in a week. Regardless of what has to get done, there is a higher need to fulfill your own personal needs first. Always remember that no one gets a 25th hour in their day. So be accountable to yourself. It is a must.

Choose your daily to do’s wisely and hold accountable to:
1) Scheduling your workouts every week
2) Packing your meals to bring to work or to wherever you are going
3) Drinking at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water a day
4) Ditching the high glycemic carbs on the regular
5) Limiting any and all alcohol consumption as much as possible
6) Getting your 7 hours of sleep each night

Are you doing all the above? If not, what is holding you back from doing so? Hold yourself accountable to yourself. If you are unable to hold yourself accountable, then form a master mind (this is in my book) or hire a coach. Either way, the time is now. Don’t wait to give your life back to yourself.”