The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Ernest Coney as the Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coney, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. (CDC Tampa).
Coney has influenced many students and families in creating aspirational goals while having the audacity to dream. He has been instrumental in the lives of thousands of kids within our communities through his work at CDC of Tampa. Several initiatives at CDC of Tampa were created in large part because of Coney, including Tampa Vocational Institute (TVI), InspHIRE, Suit Up and Show Up, and the Tampa F.I.R.E Academy. These programs are all dedicated to improving the lives of many young people in the Tampa Bay region. Over the past five years, Coney’s programs have helped 2,500 residents improve their employability skills, obtain certification, and start a career.
The grant tonight will be used to cultivate the CDC of Tampa Hiring & Opportunities for Procurement in East Tampa (HOPE) program. The clients they serve are mostly low-to-moderate income individuals who are seeking to become more economically self-sufficient. The goal is to impact 1,000 residents by assisting 500 new hires through employer partner recruitment and 500 East Tampa residents who will be impacted through procurement opportunities.
Coney became the 504th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through tonight’s game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $27.57 million to more than 700 unique nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.
Content provided by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Feature image: of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Amalie Arena on October 18, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)