Our History

The Mendez Foundation has grown over the past 55 years. Today, the Foundation focuses on educating children nationwide and helping them develop the skills they need to lead healthy and happy lives.

The Beginning

The C. E. Mendez Foundation was established in 1964 by Charles E. Mendez, a Florida businessman. Mr. Mendez established the Foundation to support local charitable organizations serving underprivileged children and their families living in the Tampa Bay area.

A New Focus

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 substance abuse at its core. Recognizing that the most effective means of affecting change was through education, Mr. Mendez redirected the Foundation’s efforts to develop and deliver prevention education programs for school age children and teens.

The Foundation’s prevention programs were developed with this philosophy: that providing children, at an appropriate age, information about the negative health consequences of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use, combined with the development of critical decision making, goal setting, and social 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 Grade 6 Meology classes were taught in the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa. Mendez Foundation Prevention Specialists have been delivering prevention education in Hillsborough County Public Schools ever since reaching students Kindergarten through High School.

The successful implementation of these programs led to national recognition in the early 1980s. School systems from all over the country were eager to introduce drug prevention into their classrooms. In response, the Foundation began to make the curricula available to educators nationwide.

The Foundation’s team of professional educators have taken these simple concepts and developed some of the most effective and engaging prevention education programs available.

Our Ongoing Mission

Today, Too Good for Drugs, TGFV Social Perspectives, and Celebrating Healthy Choices are implemented by over 3,500 school districts, communities, and behavioral health agencies throughout the United States and around the world. Our community efforts in Tampa reach all sectors including, school, home, and community though partnerships with law enforcement, behavioral health groups, and local government. We continue to strive to set the standard for comprehensive community focused prevention.

Timeline of the Mendez Foundation’s History

Doing good work for the health and well-being of our children is nothing new for the Mendez Foundation. For nearly 40 years, we’ve been developing and implementing unparalleled K-12 prevention education programs that teach kids they are too good for drugs and violence.

Our History

1964

Charles E. Mendez, Sr., a Florida businessman, establishes the C.E. Mendez Foundation to support local charitable organizations whose purpose is to help children and families improve their lives.

1964

1967

Charles E. Mendez, Jr., becomes President of the Mendez Foundation. Mr. Mendez, Jr. expands the Foundation’s efforts to ready young people for success.

1967

1975

Mr. Mendez recognizes the Foundation’s need to take a proactive approach to serving its purpose. He redirects the Foundation’s efforts to address the growing substance use problem in the United States.

1975

1978

The Foundation develops and pilots its new health education and substance use prevention curriculum. The new program is targeted at sixth graders and is called Meology.

1978

1980

The Mendez Foundation hires full-time Prevention Specialists to deliver the program in Tampa-area schools.

History 1980

1980

1984

The curricula is made available on a national basis; Mendez Foundation trainers travel around the country training teachers to deliver the programs to students.

1984

1985

The National Football League forms a cooperative partnership with the Mendez Foundation; 11 NFL teams fund the implementation of Meology in the schools of their respective cities. Mendez staff travels to these cities to train teachers to implement the program.

1985

1986

The Mendez Foundation initiates the first annual “Too Good for Drugs Walk” in Tampa. This event, which includes many family-oriented activities, has consistently drawn thousands of children and adults every year.

1986

1989

Through grants from the Florida Governor’s Office and the City of Tampa, the Mendez Foundation brings its prevention message to kids in 18 City of Tampa Recreation Centers.

1989

1995

A Peace-Able Place is introduced. Now known as Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives, this program meets character education guidelines and teaches children that they have what it takes to resolve conflicts and resist bullying behavior peacefully.

1995

1996

1996 Carmen and Wagner make their debut in Friends R Happenin’ in Tampa area elementary schools. Their travelling show for Kindergarteners brings messages about making healthy choices and being a good friend with lively dance and music. These two really steal the show…

History 1996

1996

1999

The Mendez Foundation develops the Too Good for Drugs & Violence – After-School Activities program, featuring fun, age-specific activities designed to be used in after-school settings, such as recreation centers, community centers, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

1999

2000

Mendez Foundation introduces Too Good for Drugs & Violence – High School, an evidence-based prevention education program designed to equip high school students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to remain safe and drug-free.

The Foundation also introduces Too Good for Drugs & Violence – Staff Development to provide social-emotional guidance and development for teachers and staff.

2000

2001

Independent evaluations demonstrate the positive effects of the Mendez Foundation’s programs on student attitudes and behavior.

2001

2003

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) lists Too Good for Drugs on its Model Programs Guide to evidenced-based, scientifically-proven programs that can make a difference in the lives of children and communities.

2003

2006

Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence, and Too Good for Drugs & Violence are reviewed and determined to meet evidence standards for character education intervention by the Institute for Education Studies’ What Works Clearinghouse.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) lists Too Good for Violence on its Model Programs Guide.

2006

2008

Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence are both reviewed and listed on NREPP – SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

2008

2012

Celebrating Healthy Choices is introduced to provide schools and community agencies a fun and interactive learning program for special school year celebrations like Red Ribbon Week.

2012

2013

A new independent evaluation of the Too Good for Drugs school-based prevention education program demonstrates the program’s effectiveness in reducing drug use and increasing protective factors among 6th graders. The study is published in the Journal of Drug Education.

CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) recognizes Too Good for Violence K-5 as an effective social and emotional learning program.

2013

2017

The Mendez Foundation partners with Hazelden Publishing and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to prevent substance use and increase the awareness of the risks and consequences of substance use.

2017