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
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
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
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.”