The History of Jeopardy

    Jeopardy was created in 1991 by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division in Sylmar, and has since grown to include programs in five San Fernando Valley divisions – Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Mission Hills, West Valley and Devonshire -- and several in Los Angeles.
    Jules Baker, CEO of an event management firm, was a Jeopardy pioneer, serving as a founder and long-time president of the program. “Prior to 1990, my business was in Hollywood, and I was president of the Hollywood Police Support Association,” explains Baker. In this role, he was responsible for fundraising, and in 1990, he moved his company to the San Fernando Valley.
    Through police department contacts, Baker befriended the (then) chief of police for the Valley. “Knowing my background, he asked me to head up Jeopardy for Van Nuys, and I agreed,” says Baker. “We received no money from the city. We had to raise all the money on our own.”
    Seventeen years later, Baker is still involved, continuing to raise money for the Jeopardy Foundation, recruiting board members and establishing activities for the youth. Among his accomplishments is the procurement of a $350,000 grant from California State University Northridge for use toward programs and activities. “This is the only program out there that acts as a deterrent to these kids getting into gangs,” says Baker.
    The structure of the Jeopardy programs is as follows: Each division is assigned two full-time officers to oversee day-to-day operations, and each has a board of directors comprised of business people in the community with a desire to help at-risk kids. In Van Nuys, Baker recruits board members by hosting wine and cheese receptions, during which he conducts a Power Point presentation about Jeopardy.
The students come into Jeopardy in a variety of ways: “We get these kids by referral, from school teachers who notice a drop in grades, from faith-based organizations, those whose siblings or parents are involved with gangs, or those with family members who have been killed by gangs,” explains Baker.
    Does Jeopardy help? “I went from hanging around with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble with the law and my parents, and getting bad grades to becoming a straight-A student,” says Miguel, a 16-year-old former Jeopardy student. “New friends respect me for who I am, and I get along with my parents. I have a part-time job. I also won at boxing. I thank the Jeopardy officers and my coach for helping me out in changing.”